Anyone who was on social media today cannot have missed the furore caused by professional windbag, John Waters, in his pity party for one interview in the Sunday Independent about the backlash from Pantigate. In this interview, Waters was speaking about how he was affected by the comments and criticism levelled at him when he commented: ” “I don’t believe in depression. There’s no such thing. It’s an invention. It’s bullshit… it’s a cop out.”
I wish life were that simple. I wish I truly were not affected by depression in any way and that none of my loved ones did not have to witness my depression last year. Unfortunately crossing my fingers and wishing does not make it go away, nor does telling yourself to cop on, that you’re only being weak and stupid.
Depression is not an invention, it’s the slow shrinking of your emotional world to a grey, washed out place where all you feel is dread and shame. Depression is not bullshit, it is as legitimate as any physical illness and confined me to a small world where I felt like I would never heal or be able to do the most basic of tasks ever again. Depression is not a cop out, it is often the result of having to be strong in a world that is way too tough some days.
There were days when I could barely leave my bed or couch for fear of what would be on the other side of my apartment door. There were other days when I felt that if a bus knocked me down, it would not matter; days that would start with such promise only to result in tears by 3pm, completely stymied by the lies my depression was screaming at me.
Your mind will lie to you a thousand different ways once depression has a hold on it. It’ll start with a small criticism, poking holes wherever it can in your mental defences. Then it will tell you that you’re incompetent and stupid. When that message sinks in and you start to withdraw into yourself, your depression will grab onto something else to torment you – that you’re socially awkward and everyone must think you’re a freak. Then when you eventually stop going out and can’t get out of bed, that voice will start to mock you again to remind you’re weak unlike everyone else who can just get on with life.
With all that going on in your head, a comment like that made by John Waters is just going to reinforce all the negativity you are thinking. I have recovered from this episode of depression with medication and some hard emotional work with the help of a therapist. The other big factor in my recovery and continued positive mental health is the support of those around me, friends and family who recognise that depression is an illness.
If you are feeling the same way I did, you are not making it up and you are not alone in this. If you are in the black hole I was in this time last year, the best thing you can do is acknowledge it and reach out for the help you need – from your GP, a counsellor, your family, your friends and from the many fantastic groups out there like Pieta House, Aware and the Samaritans.