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Dear you: an easy way to start talking about your depression

Friday, 11 October 2013 Stacey Berry

"If I had a broken leg I know you'd make allowances for me and help in any way you could." Stacey blogs about how hard it is to talk about depression and suggests a letter you can use as a template.

Stacey Berry writes the blog, Bitten by the Dog, about her experiences with depression. You can also find her on Twitter: @StaceBerry

I don't think that there is a mental health condition called Depression Verbal Diarrhoea (though DVD does sound familiar...) but if it does exist, then I have it.

I've gone from keeping completely schtum about my depression, to telling everyone that will listen. Sometimes even those that won't.

I used to feel embarrassed and ashamed, hence the secrecy. Then on the spur of the that I obviously mean after agonising over it for a few months, I decided to 'come out' by writing a blog about my mental health issues. I put my first post online and added the link to my Facebook page. I immediately felt sick. What on earth had I done that for?

I needn't have worried. The feedback was amazing. People told me that I'm brave. A lot said they were surprised cause I don't seem depressed. Some shared their stories with me and others even thanked me for starting the blog and helping to try and end the stigma. I felt like a depression blogging rockstar!

But more importantly, I didn't get a single negative response. Not one.

People can be great can’t they? Especially when you need them to be. Which is why I wholeheartedly recommend sharing your problems and giving others the opportunity to support you.

Easier said than done though. Talking about it is the best option but where to even start? “Did you watch X Factor last night and have I mentioned I’m depressed?”

I reckon doing it the retro way and sending a letter could be a good idea. I appreciate that it could still be hard to know what to say though and bizarrely you never see a template for that kind of thing, so in true Blue Peter style, here's one I made earlier...

Dear You,

I am writing to confide in you that I have been bitten by a dog. Before you rush me off to get a tetanus injection, I should explain that the bite was from the metaphorical black dog. In other words, I suffer from depression.

I appreciate that you might not properly understand what that means. It's a bit like having an orgasm – you’ve heard about it, you know what occurs, you may even have seen it happen to someone, but you can never really know what it feels like without experiencing it for yourself.

Having depression isn't like being depressed about the fact you can't afford those fabulous shoes or that your football team lost. People with depression don't tend to say 'I'm sooooooo depressed.' We don't have the energy to use unnecessary vowels.

We also don't sit at home rocking backwards and forwards. Unless in a chair designed for that purpose of course. We aren't crazy. We aren't weak. We aren't usually depressed about something we don't like in our lives because if we were we'd change it. Similarly we aren't able to just 'think positive' and 'snap out of it.' Believe me we’ve all tried.

Also there's a lot more to depression than feeling lower than a worm's boobs. It's a bit like having a horrendous hangover - the paranoia, the lethargy, the guilt. Being unable to think straight, being unable to sleep and being a bit useless in general. It lasts a hell of a lot longer though and there has been no fun night out beforehand to make it worthwhile.

If I had a broken leg I know you'd make allowances for me and help in any way you could. I realise this situation is more difficult to deal with because there is nothing to see and there’s no plaster cast to write a funny message on, but if you think about it, the same could be said if it was my heart that was broken. You’d still be straight round with a shoulder to lean on, assurances that I’ll get over it and appropriate little white lies that I will never hurt again.

Any chance of doing the same for my broken head? I’ll put the kettle on in case…

Love, Me


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