Mental illness is stigmatic to most, due to the misunderstanding involved in it.  I am one of many who wish to offer people a different understanding.  My name is Samantha and I suffer from clinical depression.  I say ‘suffer’ because that is truly what mental illness causes: a daily struggle. Some days are better than others, in fact some days are wonderful; full of life and joy….

 

Depression is hard to understand, because you should be able to “just get over it”, and everyone has a bad day right?  Yes!  Everyone has a bad day, but what I call a bad day isn’t the average.  My bad day starts with me waking up feeling ill, weak, exhausted, unmotivated; and the world feels like a giant blur.  No matter what efforts I put forward the blur refuses to become clearer.  I have to physically and mentally force myself out of bed, or that is where I would remain.  The day follows with blank dispirited thoughts, depleting emotions, and an out-of-body mind.  My “bad day” will leak into the rest of the week, with my thoughts, movements, and emotions all becoming less and less lively.

 

The only way I can simply explain my depression in words is: ” it’s like a hole that I start to dig for myself”.   When I see it coming, I feel sick at the thought of the shovel hitting the dirt.  Yet, I continue to dig, and dig, until I sit alone at the bottom.  I pray that someone will stop me from digging deeper and pull me back up.  But as I sit on the cold bottom, every bone in my body, every thought that flutters through my head paralyses me.  So there I sit, until my heart pushes hard enough to overcome all other instincts. Pulling myself back up takes everything I can mentally, physically and emotionally give.  The recovery involves burying this hole from which I came, burying the heartache underneath, only to unearth it when depression creeps back into my life.

 

But depression is not what defines me.  I used to believe that no one could, or would be able to see beyond the stigma.  Now that I understand my illness; it is my strength.  I love talking to people about mental health and I strive to help others see what I now see so clearly.  The stigma that seems to swallow mental illness is simply the fear of something misunderstood.  I struggled daily and alone for nearly a decade before reaching out for help.  Though I continue to struggle I have overcome depression; mind you, not alone.  I have overcome it with the love of friends, family, and amazing mental health professionals.  Reaching out for support has saved my life.

 

I have learnt to stop myself from starting to unearth that hole I once hid within.  I’ve learnt to love life again, and love myself.  Depression and mental health barriers do not define a person and it is a mere fraction of your bigger self.  Those who know me understand I have an unrelenting love for life.  That love for life is what I am remembered by, nothing more, nothing less.

 

Samantha Johnson