“If you have met one person with depression then you have met one person with depression.” That’s what a tutor once said to me while on a mental health awareness course that I had decided to go on as part of my rehabilitation from mental illness.
The reason he said it was to make a point against the thought “if you’ve seen one you’ve see them all.”
Certainly I know what I went through during my years of suffering with depression but I wouldn’t venture to assume that I know what others are going through nor would I want to hear that they know what I went through.
Clinical depression has aspects common to sufferers but no-one really knows how those aspects affect the individual, only they themselves know that; different things for different people.
That’s one of the reasons I co-run a mental health support group. People can come and say as much as they want or say nothing at all. But if not at first, and it might take a number of weeks, people do talk. We don’t talk about mental health as such, instead we cover any and all subjects under the sun and even have a laugh and joke. But during the course of those chats, invariably someone opens up with an insight to how they are feeling and what they have been through.
I find that the talking done within the safe place of our group can be enlightening, reassuring, inspiring, comforting and normalising.
Talking helps. It can be clear why people would rather not but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from myself and the group is that talking helps. It’s about letting it out, controlling it, taking ownership and lifting weight. It’s about putting forgotten trust into people again. But I think, and I’ve done a previous blog post about this (called ‘I am therefore know that I am’) it’s about allowing others to acknowledge your existence; being heard, being seen and being part of the world again.
Hearing what is said when someone is speaking personally really makes it clear that we are all different with different thoughts, perceptions and interpretations and it truly is a case of if you have met one person with depression then you have met one person with depression.
Anyway I’m no expert, I’m just someone carefully treading the thin line of good day/bad day.