I was recently diagnosed with a form of depression. It makes me fail to see the good in myself and interrogates the work I produce. The curious, critical and analytical mind that carried me through a PhD and then helped me forge a new career in web design has turned on itself, picking apart my every endeavour and deed.
I am not alone. It was recently reported that “one in four people suffer a mental health problem”. I’ll say that again. One in four people. One quarter. 25%.
Depression means many things to many people. It can have a variety of symptoms and a variety of causes. But for all sufferers of depression the same thing is true — the part of your brain controlling perception is broken. Sufferers receive the same information others receive but cannot process that information in the same way; your perception of the world is fundamentally distorted.
Depression is an incredibly hard thing to talk about because talking openly about our frailties can be regarded as a weakness — or worse, a failure (most crucially by ourselves). But the first step in managing depression is knowing it and to do this we must open up to somebody: whether that is a loved one, a medical professional or a complete stranger. So I’m opening up to you.
I want to take this opportunity — this privileged platform — to share with you that depression is not a weakness; we need to be able to talk openly about mental illness and accept that it is a condition which can affect anybody. Mental health problems affect one in four people. One quarter. 25%. You are not alone.