Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Depression: the silent killer.

Can you tell in which picture I was suffering from Depression and Anxiety?

You couldn't pick? 

That's because you can't see Depression.

The answer? Which one did you think?

It's the top photo. It brings me to tears writing this. People do not know the pain behind that smile. My dear friend had to drag me, and I'm talking LITERALLY drag me out of bed that night to go to the twenty first. I was in my pjs...I had been allllll day. I had no energy. I was so anxious that I could barely talk. I felt isolated and lonely.

My dear friend knew that the best thing for me was to go out and socialise. She didn't give up. Even with me kicking and screaming and in tears saying that I didn't want to go. She dragged me.

I am forever grateful that she did. She was right. It's just what I needed. While I felt anxious on the inside, other people probably wouldn't have been able to tell that night that I was experiencing an internal meltdown.

Why? Because you can't see Depression.

Me in my early stages of Depression at my sisters 21st and engagement party in Mildura on the Easter long weekend 2011. I was a wreck this weekend. I spent most of it in bed. I didn't eat. I had to be dragged to go and socialise. Mick helped me to prepare my sisters speech because he knew that I'd regret not saying something, even though I had to suck back tears and stand in front of a crowd of people. I'll NEVER forget how hard this weekend was for my family and friends. They saw me at my worse.

I think one of the hardest things for people to understand about Depression is that you can't visually see that someone is in pain.

With Depression, the pain is on the inside.

People suffering from Depression don't wear a cast or plaster, they don't  require bandages, they don't go bald, or grow warts, or have a huge neon sign pointing above their head saying 'I'm in struggle town!'...no matter how alien or isolated they may feel.

The lack of visual impairment is what makes Depression difficult to deal with and identify for both those suffering from it and for those around them.

Unfortunately, we seem to have adapted a view that if the person "looks normal" then they must "feel normal".

As we all know, this is most definitely not always the case.

Someone can look completely normal on the outside, but could be going through absolute hell and melt down on the inside.

We live in a visual world. We like to see to believe. 

What we did not take photos of this weekend was me in bed, in my pjs, tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling frumpy.

Often the person suffering from Depression hides away. They might hide away their feelings with a smile, or they might literally hide away in a dark room with the curtains closed under the covers.

If there were two people standing side by side, suffering from Depression, I can guarantee you that you would not be able to pick which one had Depression.

That is why Depression is a silent killer.

How often do we hear people say "but I just don't understand, the person was always so bright and bubbly...they had a great life...why would they want to end it?"

The answer is that they are suffering from an illness called Depression, that is such a HORRIBLE illness that it leads the person to believe that to rid themselves from the pain, that they must hurt themselves in some way or form.

You don't have to understand why the person has Depression, it' just helpful to know how to identify and support someone with Depression.

I have previously written this blog post called Knowing the difference between “I’m good” and “I’m really not coping but I’ll say I’m good anyway” that might help you to understand what's helpful to say and do if you believe someone might be Depressed.

Just being there, and letting them know that you are there, and going out of your way to take them to appointments, drag them out of bed to things, and still be a presence even during their extremely difficult personal battle is the BEST thing that you can do for someone with Depression.

Let them know that you don't and won't think any differently of them because of their illness.

Don't remain silent yourself. You want the person to open up and talk about what they are going through.

Silence is a killer.

And remember that you may not be able to visually identify that someone has Depression, but it's important to think about their normal behaviour, and if they are acting differently or strange then you should encourage them to see a doctor.

Me now, post Depression, happy and healthy and loving life.

 Help me to give Depression a voice. Help me to break down the stigma around Depression so that we don't see it claim so many lives.

Depression. It can happen to anyone, at any time even if you can't see it!

Take care of yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

 Beyond Blue


Jac said...

great post!

Kirsty Arnold said...

Thankyou so much Jac. It was a difficult one to write but is worth it to spread the awareness about the horrible illness that Depression is. I really appreciate your comment!

Tash.K. said...

Hi Kirsty,
I've only just read this blog (running a few months late!)
As I read your words something inside me broke down and cried, for you, for myself, as someone else who has experienced something of the isolating despair that you describe, and for everyone else who has gone and/or continues to experience this hell.
Thank you xo