Depression…it’s not that bad…

Depression, it’s not that bad…

It infuriates me whenever I hear that. I’m sure it also upsets the estimated 350 million people worldwide* who are affected by depression (and this statistic doesn’t even touch on the number of family members and friends affected by depression). Just because it’s not visible, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Having depression is real and because it’s internalized, it makes it all the more difficult to express and find support.

Did you know that depression comes in many forms? For example, there’s situational depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, psychosis depression to name a few. And then of course there’s depression that’s a symptom of something else such as bipolar, autism, aspergers and dysthymia (persistent mild depression).

I grew up in a home that discouraged conversations around the house. Dinner time was particularly a quiet time when we were told to eat and not speak. Years after my brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he shared with my dad that he thinks what he might be also suffering from depression. My dad, who was already ashamed that his eldest son had schizophrenia, immediately shut my brother’s perspective out and said, “stop talking nonsense…you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Our struggles are our own to manage and sadly if the people around us do not have the capacity to offer support, compassion, patience and understanding, then it may be time to find another support group. I realize it’s much easier said than done because the notion of severing ties and communication with our loved ones, family members, certain friends or even partners can seem daunting and unfathomable.

Many years ago, I remember having a few conversations with my older sister on the child abuse that was inflicted upon us three kids growing up and the effects of depression it had particularly on me. She quickly dismissed it and would say, “It wasn’t that bad…I got hit just as much.” (implying that she wasn’t affected by the abuse.) She went on to justify that all Chinese families exhibit some form of physical and emotional abuse growing up and it was a normal and acceptable part of life. I haven’t since spoken to her about the topic knowing that she doesn’t share the same space of compassion and understanding with me.

I recently met up with a friend I met at my Meetup for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. She’s a lovely and pretty young lady who has her fair share of battles with depression. We had a wonderful time having a couple of beers and lunch chatting about how she was physically abused by her father growing up and continues to live at home with her parents. She went on to explain that she one day approached her dad about the abuse and he quickly laughed it off and replied, “oh, that was so long ago…let it go…let’s move forward.”

 

Whether it’s about depression, our mental health or abuse, the point is to make sure we reach out to the proper support to have our experiences validated (“Why Validation works in Relationships”). We must not allow our experiences to be taken away by others who say, “it’s not that bad”, “get over it”, or “that never happened that way”. Our experiences are real. There will be people who are unprepared to accept our experiences, and that’s OK. Simply accept that they aren’t capable of hearing about other people’s vulnerabilities because of possible reasons of fear or shame that they have within themselves. They’re inability to provide support, is not a reflection of our truths and should not stop us from finding the compassion we need.

Over the years I’ve discovered a wonderful bunch of people at the Meetup group and of course my counsellor and now friend, Guillermo who provides the validation I need.

Take the time to find your support and enjoy the rest of your weekend, Readers!

Jason

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Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography

*statistic by the World Health Organization in 2012

 

9 thoughts on “Depression…it’s not that bad…

  1. Hi Jason

    I have depression and have gone through the similar, “What have you got to be depressed about?” and “Anxiety is perfectly normal” from my mother. For a while, we were staying with my sister because of homelessness and I was in a bad way at the time but she bitterly resented my not working vs her long hours. She took her anger out on me, hitting me. It was the classic, sorry, I won’t do it again afterwards. On the third occasion, she told me she wanted me out. I remember going to my doctor that day and also the local homelessness unit. It was my 33rd birthday- worse I’d ever experienced.

    My mother and I had an appointment to see the homelessness team and I remember a conversation we had where I felt it important to tell them about the violence. And I bitterly recall that she said we weren’t going to air out dirty laundry in public. It was like a punch in the gut. In the end, I did tell the woman about it and it was the first time I’d actually even considered it domestic violence when she described it as such, but looking back, while it was only a few times, it was classic. We got rehomed but I spent months not trusting my sister who would be over almost daily as my mother cared for her child while she was at work. I had lots of arguments with my mother about why I didn’t want her in our house but she didn’t care. I still have to see my sister very frequently, but I don’t fully trust her nor can I forget what she put me through, even though she now denies it completely.

    I’m so sorry for your own experiences. I think that our experiences are problematic to other people. It requires empathy and a different way of viewing certain other people in their lives or themselves in a way they have no wish to do. Ultimately, people only care about themselves and having affirmation that they’re view is the correct one. I’m glad you’ve found your group but I’m sorry your sister your sister won’t consider an opposing point of view. Hugs from far away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lorna for sharing such an heartfelt story. I know it must be tough and painful to relive them but I’m glad you’re strong enough to share. It took forty years before I could open my wounds up. You have such an amazing story and I really hope you’re doing well. I agree that some people view themselves as correct and it’s so hard to live with that. I’m sorry to hear about your life and I’m glad we connected here. Stay in touch and know you have someone here this far away who understands. Hugs.

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  2. I totally agree! Needing to talk about things with family is something I don’t seem to get, at least with my parents.

    And I totally agree that we need to be heard! Even ordinary people need someone to listen to. Too often, the world doesn’t want to hear the problems going on with it.

    Thank you for the article!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this post! It is definitely frustrating when others dismiss what we may be going through, or have been through. I can also see how it makes us believe we are simply ‘too’ sensitive, or that we are somehow wrong to think this way. During my teenage years, i went through a lot of emotional abuse by my parents, which they say they “have no recollection of”. My mother even went as far as telling my therapist that i made it all up, as though those years of my life simply did not happen. It’s a shame that those close to us can often contradict themselves when they say they are there to support us but then disregard any attempt we make to speaking out about what we are going through. I am so sorry that you had to go through this as a child, and that your sister chooses to believe that ‘it wasn’t that bad’, or was even a very ‘normal’ event. It sounds like pushing these experiences as less than may be her way of dealing with that difficult time. Although this may not work in the long run, I am inspired by your desire to come to terms with your past, and i can tell that when and if your sister ever does choose to talk about it, you will be there with an open ear. She is lucky to have you.
    Take care, and until next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this! What a thoughtful and caring comment! I think people deny the abuse (whether parents or siblings) because there’s too much shame for them to handle. And they’re afraid by admitting it, they are therefore “bad” parents. The irony is that if they can admit it, they will be regarded as even better parents! I’m sorry to hear your mother was in so much denial. It’s so hurtful that your own parents won’t even do something to help you! Take care too. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so true. If you don’t accept the situation was bad it’s very difficult to start to heal. I’m only just realising this and this post really helped. I struggle with depression, anxiety and anorexia as well as having experienced some very traumatising situations. I can’t even believe I just said that since I’m only starting to believe it myself…I’ve been denying it so long. I draw cartoons to express how mental illness etc. affects me. You might relate to them, take a look if you like. http://www.luthienthegreen.wordpress.com thank you for this post, it has been so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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