I've been listening to a Ruby Wax podcast on Audible: "No Brainer", it's called.
Some of you may know that Ruby wax, in additional to being a Comedienne of some note, also writes and performs about depression. She suffers from severe depression herself and has studied the subject in depth as part of her battle against this illness.
It's an engaging listen and I would recommend it. You can only find it on Audible, I believe, but it's not very expensive.
One of the subjects she talks about is her feelings about having depression in the first place and this really struck a chord with me.
We all know – or I hope we do – that our depression is a real illness. It is not just a blue mood we can "snap out of". Yes – it's all in our head, but it's all in our head in the same way a broken leg is all in the leg, or angina is all in the heart.
Yet there seems to be more negative emotions around depression than other illnesses. I'm especially talking about the guilt which comes with it.
Let's think about the depression itself for a moment. There's the mental side, obviously, and this can go from what the doctors call a "consistently low mood", to blackest despair, to suicidal impulses because we no longer want to be alive, to that dull grey isolation where we no longer feel anything. That last stage can be the most terrifying of all.
Then there is the physical side of depression. The "consistently low mood" may be helped by exercise, but, when I was in one of my depressions, I couldn't exercise. All I was physically capable of was sitting on the sofa, shaking. I couldn't even walk the 25 meters to the end of the drive.
But – until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the worst bit was the guilt and despair I experienced about those times of depression.
Ironically, even though my condition worsened quite dramatically in the past dozen years, my suffering around it just as dramatically decreased. I no longer felt guilty. I knew I could no more control my condition than I could that broken leg or angina. I no longer asked, "Why does this happen? What did I do wrong? How could I let myself get like this?" I just got on with getting through it and getting better. Ruby Wax says that, once she had stopped suffering about her depression, those periods of depression got a lot shorter. They still come, she says, but they don't last as long.
My bipolar disorder is now controlled by drugs, for which I am immensely grateful. I don't feel guilty in the least about taking my tablets every morning and evening. My medication enables me to function reliably. I am able to be a competent wife, mother and businesswoman.
So – if medication works for you, don't feel guilty.
In fact, don't feel guilty at all!
A Moodscope member.