What does depression look like? I often ask people.
The question intrigues me. The answers, even more.
Depression is an enigma with many faces.
It doesn’t always looks like what we expect it to. And more importantly, people wear it differently.
You might already know that I’ve set out to raise money for Depression Alliance, a charity that I volunteer with and which has saved me on numerous occasions from the tight ropes of depression.
For my fundraiser I’m hosting an art competition called Depict Depression . In it, I ask people to illustrate depression in any artform – a painting, drawing, sculpture, a decorated cake, graffiti, poem, rap… the point is to get people talking about this thing called depression. This thing that many people remain mum about. Ashamed about. And yes, sometimes ignorant about.
Why talk about it
In my homeland I never felt free to talk about the inner turmoil caused by the d-word. I covered it up, masked it, but in truth it was always with me, pinned to me. I was judged harshly as being anti social, ‘strange’ and timid.
I became very vocal about it long after I left. A certain degree of sadness fills me for people who cannot talk about what they experience. Because for me, talking about it has helped me to understand it, so I can begin to deal with it. Slowly.
Even I, deep in the throes of depression, had misconceptions about it.
Talking achieves many a thing. There is one thing however, that people always marvel at when they just start the dialogue about depression.
They’re always surprised at who suffers from it. Always the person they least expected. And somehow, people feel more encouraged to talk about their own battle with the black dog, because suddenly, they realise it’s affecting all kinds of people. They feel less isolated. There is someone they can relate to.
She had a strut that stopped taxis mid traffic and left men with their tongues hanging like thirsty pups. Needless to say, she was a looker with confidence and charisma. A people lover, a friend maker. A booming career was hers. Yet, when we met, as she beamed about new happenings, I couldn’t help but notice the heavy bandage around her hand.
She brushed it off. I didn’t ask again because I didn’t have to.
She’s had a long struggle with depression, and rough battle with self harm. Yet, were it not for physical bandages and scars that few eyes could see, none would know. Or guess. Or even have an inkling.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. Man, woman, boy, girl, whatever career, race, religion, sexuality… you name it. It can take hold of you.
Sometimes when I ask what depression looks like, I really mean, who does it look like?
The answer? Anyone. Everyone. You, me, her, him, them…
I am sad, terribly sad that friends I have at home are suffering in silence. That they cannot talk about the agony they bear. That they must hide it away and keep up appearances.
Why? Tell me why??
Why can’t you be more understanding? More compassionate towards them? And stop with judgemental attitudes and opinions. Stigma. Forget what the society tells you about mental illness. Forget what it tells you about depression. Just listen. Listen with an opened heart.
Look at little more closely.
She is your sister, your mother, your ma…
He…. he is your lover, your child, your friend
Look a little more closely… it could be you.
*Far fetched? Nope! Depression affects 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives. That’s very common. Help someone by listening today. Be kind. Smile. If you can, donate to a charity that helps those who suffer by supporting them. Depression Alliance makes a difference and I know because they’ve helped me. You can enter my fundraiser art competition and join the discourse. If you don’t want to, you can still donate securely here.