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YOUR VOICE: The Greatest Lie

What’s the greatest lie I’ve ever told?

‘I’m OK.’ 

Sounds simple doesn’t it? The truth is that there are times when I’ve been anything but OK.

I’ve suffered from depression since the age of 18 and it’s something that I often find difficult to share with anyone. There are, of course, friends who I have told, but I always feel as if I am burdening them, as if I am bothering them with my ‘petty problems.’ Whilst  I have often craved the need to tell someone how I feel, wanted to ask for help, I have often just resorted to telling people that everything is ‘fine’ and that I am, ‘OK.’

Most of the time, people believe it too. People often have the misconception that those who suffer from depression walk around in a constant state of melancholy. The truth, however, is wildly different. I know from personal experience that I could often be the life and soul of the party when around others, and yet deep down I would be battling the demons which would surface when I was alone.

At my worst, I often feel isolated and alone, desperate to tell somebody how I feel, and yet feel ashamed to do so. And there lies the crux of the problem. When the black dog descends, you need someone to listen, to help you reason through your darkest hours. As I write this I realise how selfish it sounds, to expect someone to understand when you remain silent, but it is hard to verbalise how you’re feeling when that dark cloud is hovering above you.

More often than not, you need someone to listen; one person who is willing to understand, to help you when you feel all is lost. Luckily I do have certain people in my life who will listen to me, who will try to understand, but it takes far too much time before i can admit to myself that things have got to the point where I need to talk about it. Sometimes all I need is to call a friend, grab a pint and thrash out the things that are bothering me. I’m not saying that this would be an end to all my problems, I’m not that naïve, but sometimes I know if I had talked to someone earlier, then maybe I would have been able to resolve some of my feelings and at least feel better for a while. Most of the time, however, I am hesitant to talk to anyone, bottling things up until things become unbearable.

On a positive note I think I am becoming better at recognising these feelings, in realising that sometimes you simply cannot go it alone. That’s not easy for me to accept. In my head I see myself as someone who shouldn’t need to ask for help, someone who others turn to for help and someone who is strong. The truth is that there is nothing strong about remaining silent when you need help. It has taken me a long time to realise this simple truth and it’s still something I battle with every day. I don’t find it easy to seek out help, but there are times when I have to realise that I’m not some kind of ‘Superman’ and that I can be just as fragile as anyone else. It’s hard for me to admit but it is something I’m trying to work on.

Asking for help sounds really easy when I write it on paper. I only wish it was. I thought that after suffering from depression from the age of 18 I would have answers, that I would be an expert at dealing with the feelings I often have but the truth is I don’t. I’m no expert on the issue of depression.  All I can do is tell people what I have experienced and how I feel about it. Maybe it will help others to recognise similar feelings or maybe talk about the issues I bring up here. Maybe it won’t have any effect at all. I don’t have any definitive answers.

It has been quite cathartic for me to write this, to verbalise my feelings in a way that I’m not always comfortable in doing face to face. If I may, I’d like to end with some words that a friend said to me recently.

“If you are feeling unhappy, then you shouldn’t be ashamed to say, ‘I’m not OK’….”

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