Perfect Strangers

A confession: in spite of everything that I have said and posted in the past, I have not been true to my word. I have written that I hope to raise awareness of mental health problems, to reduce the stigma that readily attaches itself to such a topic of conversation, and to help fellow sufferers. Yet I have not written about my own experiences living with depression very often. The truth is: I try not to think about it.

Coming forward when I was first diagnosed with depression, my friends commended me on my honesty and courage. I know that none of them thinks any less of me for having this illness, but it’s not that simple. Because I know prejudice exists in the wider society, I feel subjected to it, even when it is not present. The prejudice and the stigma exist only in my own head, but that doesn’t weaken its impact. I still think about how life used to be, and how different it could be. Believe me; I know it’s not a good way to think. I also wonder how my friends are getting on – some of whom I rarely speak to, most of whom I no longer speak to at all. At school I saw them every single day, now we don’t speak for months at a time, and even then the conversation can be false. I just didn’t envisage this struggle.

I can no longer hide behind a disguise

When I know you can read the truth in my eyes.

I try to keep myself as busy as possible, whether that is with work, going to the gym, on a run or for a swim as well as reading a book or watching the TV. (Some I prefer more than others!) If I can keep my mind focused on something, it’s less prone to wander back to reality. Consequently, I am less creative than I once was, and have found it difficult to write anything more than a few lines. If I write, then I think, and if I think, I reminisce.

Wherever I go, you’re not far behind;

You are the shadow, cast over my mind.

Blogging, even though I seldom do, allows me to write without fear of judgement. The beauty of writing lies in its power; people of all ages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and of different religious beliefs all have the opportunity to be moved by the same words. I can’t describe the feeling, knowing that a perfect stranger, whom I am likely to never meet, has read my words. But talking to them and reading their stories provides comfort, making what I am dealing with a little bit easier.

Wherever I turn it all looks black,

At what point was I cast from the beaten track?

Sometimes I have the rationale that ‘If today is the worst day in the world, then tomorrow can only be better’, but there’s only a certain number of times I can say that to myself before it loses its meaning. I fear I am near that limit. Things can change quickly though; one moment of one day is all it takes. You can never know when that day will be, but it might just be tomorrow.

The rain may fall; the day may be a strain,

But, don’t you fret, come tomorrow, the sun will shine again!

Writing helps to give me peace of mind, and I hope that it can help you too. As I have recently realised: my words would count for little, if you didn’t read them, so thank you. Take care and always remember: In silence we suffer.


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