When you live with depression and anxiety it’s like leaving home without your umbrella.
If you’ve ever left home on a sunny day expecting to stay warm and dry only to get caught in a freezing downpour, you’ll understand something of how depression can begin.
When a friend of mine was left standing at a train station recently on what had started out a beautifully warm winter’s day, I wondered if she’d packed her umbrella? The simple act of being prepared could have saved her from unexpectedly being soaked through and frozen and wondering what on earth happened!
For some people (myself included) depression is a response to an experience. It’s a physiological malfunction created by an extreme emotional event. For me, in the wake of childhood sexual assault and ongoing abuse, depression seems almost expected.
For others however, depression is simply a physiological malfunction with or without an experiential cause. They leave home on a sunny day only to find that at some point it starts to drizzle and before they know it they’re caught in a downpour they didn’t expect.
If only they’d packed an umbrella!
The problem is that if we expected it to happen we wouldn’t be so surprised. We would understand our depression was a natural illness caused by a physical malfunction in our chemical system. Our body begins to operate at an exaggerated level causing an overwhelming sadness.
Like teenagers getting pimples because their body is producing too much of whatever causes pimples. You can tell a teenager to stop eating unhealthy food and drinking soft drink, but it won’t stop them getting pimples. They get them because of what’s happening within their body.
Mr Wonderful knows what it’s like to have me arrive home completely soaked through by an unexpected emotional downpour. He’s dried the water from my face and held me while my body trembles. He’s agonised over what he can’t do to warm me after I’ve been drenched in the storm. He kisses my damp forehead and whispers quietly into my soul, understanding beyond all others of my desperation for a simple umbrella.
Depression is an unpredictable and difficult illness to manage. It can manifest without warning and cause complete and bewildering disablement. Or it can be a gut wrenching sadness in the middle of what should be a normal life. It can steal the fun from funny and the excitement from well… er… excitement. It can make us appear aloof and uncaring or over-sensitive and miserable. In fact, it can make us down right unlikeable!!
And that’s why we need to understand there is no umbrella that will help us avoid getting drenched. If our body so chooses it will produce the chemical cocktail required of it. If that means pimples, that’s what we’ll get. If it means diabetes, that’s what we’ll get. If it means depression or anxiety, that’s what we’ll get!
All of these illnesses have the ability to be caused by external factors. (Too much soft drink and junk food will give you pimples.) However, they are also capable of manifesting simply because your body is “out of whack”. It’s “having a moment” and sadly that moment may last forever.
Carrying an umbrella won’t stop it raining but it will help you to understand that sometimes, even on a sunny day, you might get wet.
From Johnny Nash: I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
Read more of Deb’s BLOGs about living with depression and anxiety click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)