4 May 2017

I wish depression had an obvious physical symptom - large bright blue blobs all over your face for instance. I am fed up with people assuming that I am introverted and lazy, with a negative attitude. The reality is the opposite - I am an extrovert, full of energy, very hard working and my glass isn't just half full, it is completely full!

However, I suffer from two illnesses, both of which are invisible and both of which mean that my real self is hidden behind what they impose on me (I have ME/CFS and depression). Unfortunately neither of them have obvious physical signs that everyone can see and therefore unless I tell people, they go unnoticed, with people presuming that what they see is me rather than the illness (we are NOT our illnesses!)

I think that depression would be much more easily accepted and people would see how widespread it is if there was a clear physical sign, hence my big blue blobs suggestion. The first time a child saw someone with these on their face they would say, "What's wrong with them?" and they would be told, "That poor person has depression, so be gentle and kind to them."

There are still so many misunderstandings about depression. I read with annoyance what a doctor called Ellie Cannon wrote in the Mail on Sunday in February. Fearne Cotton has gone public with her depression and this doctor wrote: "Considering her beauty, bubbly persona, huge success, gorgeous family and seemingly shatter-proof confidence, it was a surprise." Implying that good looks, a family and success mean that you won't get depression.

I hate to tell a doctor this, but depression is an illness - anybody can have it, no matter how beautiful! It is attitudes like this that make those of us who have this illness sometimes feel that we should hide it from the world ("What reason do I have to feel unhappy?") and it encourages us to feel guilty ("I must be really ungrateful because I have x, y and z and yet I still feel dreadful...") So not only is it an invisible illness but we try to hide it as well!

With most illnesses you get sympathy and support but I tend to get "What have YOU got to be depressed about?"! Obviously big blue blobs are not going to appear on my face, but I still can't help wishing that they would, along with something to show when the ME/CFS is bad (mind you, I tend to be house-bound by that and nobody sees me so the symptom would have to be that I start involuntarily emitting some weird noise that would make the neighbours come round - how about really ear-piercing whale sounds?!)

What do you think? Do you wish your mental health had a straightforward visible sign to it?

Whatever you think, I hope you are as well as you can be today.


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