Todays post was written by Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart and Other Black Holes. I just want to take this moment to thank Jasmine for writing this piece. When I was in that dark place one of the hardest things I found was talking to other people about how I was feeling. I was terrified of having to go speak to a doctor. As someone who got out of that dark place entirely on my own please trust me when I say, talk to people about how you feel. It helps.
If I could make people understand anything about depression it would be this: Depression is a disease that preys on isolation. Your mind becomes your own worst enemy. It can convince you that you are worthless, alone, and undeserving of love. And worse, since depression usually does not present with physical identifiers—i.e. you don’t lose your hair, you don’t develop large bruises, you don’t have a fever—it can be very hard for your friends and loved ones to detect. Which brings me to what I think is the most maddening aspect of depression—while connecting with others and talking about what is going on inside your head can be the key to surviving depression, the disease oftentimes makes it almost impossible to do just that.
I know from my own experience that when you are in that black hole, the very idea of talking can seem impossible. It can feel like your mouth is full of cotton, completely ill-equipped to explain to another person the bully that your mind has become. Worse, your mind will convince you that no one wants to hear about your issues. That if you express what is really going on inside that your friends will judge you or turn away. But this is not true. If you, or someone you love, are struggling, please, please find a way to communicate your feelings. Your communication doesn’t even have to be oral. Sometimes I find it easier to write down what is going on inside my own head than to say it aloud. Some people find it easiest to draw a picture. But please find a way to make sure you are heard. People want to help. People want to listen.
Lastly, I always cringe when I hear phrases such as: “Don’t be sad”. These phrases imply that the sufferer somehow has a choice in how he or she is feeling, which is patently untrue. (A quick disclaimer: I believe this to be true for situational and chemical depression, as well as that murky mix of both that so often occurs.) It helped me immensely with my own mental health to embrace the concept that I had no control over how I felt, but I did have control over how I responded to those feelings. The most important thing that I would love for readers to take away from MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES is the understanding that depression is a very REAL and SERIOUS disease—a disease for which you should seek treatment and help, but not a disease that has to be terminal. There is help. There is hope.
Jasmine can be found on Twitter: @JasmineWarga and on her website. My Heart and Other Black Holes will be available to buy in shops and online from the 12th of February.