When I first started this blog, I was overly cautious about being accessible to a range of different people. I wanted people to read what I had to say and understand a bit more, or even agree with it. But, the more I think about it, the more I realise that some people may disagree with some of the things I write, or read my posts about my specific struggles with depression and think ‘That’s not how it is for me’, and I know that that’s okay.
Recently, in a piece of work for university, I wrote that I don’t think mental illnesses are black and white phenomena, although we might treat them as if they are. Mental health is a wide spectrum, on which we all move around throughout our lives. This is why we might experience a certain illness completely differently at different points in our lives, and also why we can experience it completely differently to someone else. I see it like a colour scale; there are infinite shades of each colour, just as there are infinite ways to experience mental illness. I feel like it’s important to address that.
My experience of depression doesn’t make yours any less valid. (And vice versa.)
Just because something did/didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean that it will/won’t for someone else. Just because I do/don’t feel a certain way when I am struggling doesn’t mean that others will/won’t. We won’t always feel the same, even if we are battling similar problems. We need to remember to respect this to be able to respect that the process of recovery might look a little different for everyone.
I think this is all vital when discussing mental health, and trying to fight stigma, because it’s not just the people that have never struggled that keep these stigmas alive. We all need to remember not to shame others for their experience of any mental illness. Unnecessary shaming towards people struggling with their mental health is one of the main factors contributing to stigma, and we all have a role to play in stopping it.
So when I write about my experience of my depression, it is simply that. My experience. If it’s different for you, that’s okay. I urge everybody to talk about their own experiences, to help us all understand different perspectives. But I also urge everyone to understand that we don’t have to understand to be able to support. We should always have respect for each other, even if we can’t see things from every perspective.