1 in 4 people in Ireland will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. But everyone is affected by mental health. Whether it's having a rough day, the death of a relative, the end of a relationship, or the myriad of other knocks we get through life, feeling down is common.
When I was younger I threw the term 'depressed' around a lot. Sure, I was sad so I must be depressed. In fact, I felt depressed. I never realised that there was a difference between the illness, depression, and feeling blue until I was diagnosed with depression.
It's hard to understand what a mental illness is like if you haven't gone through it yourself. I say the words 'hopelessness', 'numb', 'fatigue', and 'constant nausea' but even the most empathetic of people can struggle to relate.
Last week a few 12 year old kids I was supervising asked me about the book I was reading (Niall Breslin's 'Me and My Mate Jeffrey'). Despite giving countless talks about mental health and what it is like to have a mental illness, I struggled to convey in words what it felt like in terms they could understand. But, there's nothing like the power of a good old fashioned image to help when it comes to relating. And lately I've come across a number of .gifs that really hit home what it mental illness feels like to me on my worst days.
Here's what it's like to experience Depression as told through .gifs:
Life knocks everyone down from time to time.
But those who are susceptible to depression find it harder to pick themselves back up.
You see, it can feel like nothing goes your way:
And you feel like you are falling apart:
But worse still, you feel yourself falling into darkness.
It's a deep pit of negativity, where you cannot find any positives:
You struggle to get out of bed:
And the time you spend in bed isn't healthy either:
There's a felt stigma so you lie.
You utter unconvincingly when you're asked 'Are you okay?':
And fake a smile:
Because it feels like everyone and everything is out to get you:
It feels impossible to face another day of work or school
because you know you'll make a show of yourself:
Because everyone else seems to be getting on with their lives when you can't even feel:
When you first see daylight after spending a week taking 'a mental health day' it feels like an assault:
This is your mantra, but it rarely works out that way:
Because it's hard to find the positive in any situation:
And every time someone offers you 'helpful' advice it feels like an attack:
But despite what you tell yourself, there is light at the end of the tunnel:
And things can and do get better.
I'm living proof of that, and I believe in you: