Let's face it – for all our talk about depression being an illness – a clinical condition, many of us are still embarrassed and ashamed when we fall into it. The fact that some of the symptoms of the depression are feelings of guilt and shame doesn't really help; it's a bit of a vicious circle.
So we feel that we really ought to be able to cope: that somehow we're inadequate when we just can't deal with everyday life... What was that? Oh yes, more guilt and shame and back on that vicious hamster wheel again!
So, even though I know that I need to rest and to do as little as possible while I get better, it's really hard to accept help. I am lucky enough to have a husband who picks up the majority of the childcare, the housework and who will field telephone calls for me (the faint halo behind his head is worrying, but I have not yet received that call from the Pope wanting to beatify him). I still feel guilty though when I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner and know he's at it again. (Ah yes, you spotted that guilt again – well done!)
The other day a friend popped round while I was doing the ironing. "You shouldn't be doing that!" she said "You should be resting." and she promptly sat me down on a chair and finished the ironing herself. It was embarrassing, but I realised that of course I would do the same for her if our positions were reversed. My mother sends food, "So you don't have the cook for the children if you don't feel up to it, dear." It's hard to accept that: I should be looking after her, not the other way round.
This time the depression has been particularly tough and I've had to call upon friends and colleagues to give me lifts, to represent me at meetings. I've had to cancel appointments with clients and send apologies to other commitments when I just haven't been well enough to attend. Everyone without fail has been understanding, flexible and supportive. But it's hard.
It's difficult to accept that people are honestly happy to help and delighted to be asked. Friends and family really want to help and give support through the bad patches. Mostly they can't help, except by just being there at the end of the phone and sending positive thoughts and prayers, but sometimes they can assist with the practical things, the laundry, the cleaning, the admin.
It means letting others into our most vulnerable space and trusting them. It's hard.
It's much easier to be a gracious giver than a grateful recipient and pride is a big and bitter pill to swallow.
But I tell you, it felt so good having the ironing all done, finished and put away. It was hard, but worth it.
A Moodscope member.