Depressed vs. Depressing
Many people in my life know me as a cheerful, friendly person. I’ve been called caring and giving. Someone once even went so far as to call me “sunny.” Those aren’t ways in which you’d expect to hear a person living with extreme chronic pain and depression to be described. When people hear “chronic pain and ” they often think “miserable, awful, unbearable”… “sunny” is the last word they’d use.
And that’s why I talk about what is happening to my body and my mind. That’s why I share the darkest thoughts that I have, and my bad days, and my painful hours through this blog. I feel that it is important for people to understand that a human being is not the sum of their diagnosis. I am not my pain. I can be miserable and I can enjoy life.
I have moments when I don’t want to live. The remainder of the time I’m thinking about how thankful I am for the time I have with my family. I have moments when my pain is so tremendous that everything else in the world stops and I am alone in a dark room, enshrouded by despair. I also have functional hours where I suffer through putting on makeup and socialize, smiling and laughing with my friends… pretending that the pain doesn’t exist.
My pain and depression and anxiety and my ASD don’t ever go away. These are things that are part of me. I used to be ashamed of them. I let people make me feel ashamed of them. I allowed doctors and friends and family to tell me that these were things to get over… from which I had to recover. I allowed other people’s discomfort with my health and mental state dictate how I interacted with the world. Mind you, I’m not saying that I’m not trying to find a cure for my chronic pain or proper treatment options to manage my depression or anxiety. I very much want to stop the pain I live with daily and I would love to live without negative thoughts. However, these things are part of my current existence and I shouldn’t have to hide them. I most certainly shouldn’t have to be ashamed of them.
ASD is not a thing to be cured. My Monster Migraine is not my fault. Depression and anxiety are also not my fault. These are not things I am doing wrong in my life. ASD is how my brain processes information. The rest is unfortunate, but part of who I am now.
But guess what? I’m also a positive, sunny, caring, helpful person who smiles and laughs. I’m silly.
Why I Won’t Shut Up
I talk about pain and depression because they are things that happen to me. I want the people I know to understand what I’m going through. I want people who might be going through similar issues to feel like they aren’t alone. I want the medical community to understand that patients are human beings who share their experiences, deserve the best possible care. Frankly, I also find it therapeutic to talk about my issues freely and be part of a community of people I consider to be survivors of themselves.
I’m not talking about the latest breakthroughs in anti-depressants during entire social engagements. I’m not waxing philosophical about suicide prevention around the dinner table. I am being honest with people when they ask how I am, and correcting misinformation in conversations when I hear it, and updating people if they show curiosity about my condition. Therefore, talking about pain and depression doesn’t have to be a constant endeavor, it just has to be something that I’m open to when the opportunity arises.
Why You Should Talk About Your Pain & Depression
Aside from the obvious therapeutic benefits that being heard and understood can provide, you would be amazed how may people don’t know about your condition. You’d also be surprised how many people know a little bit about your condition, but what they do know is horribly incorrect. You’d also be surprised that for every few people you talk to openly about your pain and depression, you may be giving someone the strength to speak out about their own suffering.
I would not have started this blog had it not been for other people who had the courage to talk about this weird thing going on with their brains. I would not have become an advocate for mental health awareness. I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have about.
You should not be ashamed to talk about suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, or chronic conditions because they aren’t your fault and because there are people who will support you. You may not know those people yet, or you might be surrounded by those people right now and they just don’t know how to help you and support you because they don’t understand what you’re going through.
Talk about it. I do. It helps.
Where and How to Talk About It
Here is a My Brain Hates Me (very much not a medical or psychological professional) Guide to ways to talk about what’s going on with your body and your mind:
- Social Media: Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs, Facebook or Facebook Groups
- Online Therapeutic Resources: 7cupsoftea.com, imalive.org
- Your Mental Health Professional: Click here to find a therapist
- Friends, Family, Online Friends
- Local Support Groups: meetup.com