By Aneesha Batavia
As someone who suffers with depression, I have often been asked what it feels like. But how do you explain that feeling? How do you describe a feeling that wholeheartedly consumes you, a feeling that seems to flow through your veins almost as naturally as your own blood, a feeling that creeps up on you like a shadowy mist on a deserted moor? It is not enough to feel it but to explain it as well is a struggle itself. After all, how can you understand something you can’t see.
To me, it felt like being in a sea; the shore within touching distance but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t reach it. The depression was a constant wave pushing me under and further from my destination. Each time I would try and reach the surface for air, it would be short lived. Another wave would soon come. Then another. The waves would be different sizes and come down with a different force, but still, they never missed their mark. On the off chance there was a lull between the waves and my bedraggled head made it above water, I would sit and wait, wondering, hoping, praying for it not to happen again. But inevitably, it did. I was completely unable to enjoy any rare moment of happiness for the fear of the inescapable unexplainable sadness that was bound to come after.
There has always been a stigma that admitting and accepting outside help is a sign of weakness. But why? Why is it shameful to look after yourself? How could it be bad to put your mental health first the way you would if you were physically unwell? I refuse to accept it as a sign of weakness or shame. It is pure strength and there is no other word for it. Strength shows itself in different forms and can be hard to recognise. Waking up every day. That’s strength. Having a shower. That’s strength. Facing the day. Strength. Looking in the mirror. Strength. Accepting help. Strength. Its always there within you.
So how do you know you’re going to feel better? The truth is you don’t. There are no guarantees with this. I am under no illusion that I am or even can be ‘cured’. There are always going to be good days and bad days and sometimes really bad days. But I have to be okay with that. Because the most important thing is that I now have ways to help me deal with it. I have worked hard to put measures in place so that the next time the wave hits, I’ve got a life jacket and I’m ready.