Blending into the background
I was recently privileged to be on a day retreat, with the wonderful Pen Wilcock (I highly recommend her books, she is a very wise woman). We were talking about journeys, our own and the concept of coming home. At the end of the day, after some period of work by ourselves, reflecting on our paths we all shared our stories. What I found fascinating was that all of these women had been on quite difficult journeys and many of them had suffered with depression along the way. It is not my place to tell the others’ stories, but I wanted to reflect on this.
We have no spaces which allow for women to reflect on their lives in this way, to share the larger picture of what happens to us in our lives. Depression is still something which is hidden away and not talked about, which is exactly what it wants. It is an evil thing which whispers in your ear how alone you are, how this is only happening to you. It thrives in the darkness. Talking about it shines a bright light on it, and, if we are with others, makes us feel that we are not alone. Which is what you need when you are depressed and can make it a little easier to live with.
All of these women would have blended in to the background in whatever they were doing, they just looked like an average late middle aged women. I am sure they all just got on with their lives as best as they could while they were struggling with their terrible burden, continuing to care for their families, work and take on all the other roles of service that many undertake.
When I recently performed my poetry for the first time earlier this month I explained the thinking behind some of my poems, and how they relate to depression and the effect that it has on my life. Afterwards several people came up and said that they understood and they had been there. I wonder how many of them had spoken about it openly before? There is still a sense of shame that comes with depression, which only feeds that little voice about how useless you are.
We need, as a society, to be much more open about mental health, to give people room to talk about it. I’m not talking about depression support groups, I have a rather cynical view of support groups, but being able to share and support each other on a day to day basis. I would love to have a local group of women who meet regularly, to help each other through life, the joys and the lows, the good and the bad. I think a part of our problem is that we can be quite isolated, there often isn’t a safe space for us to share and develop deep relationships with people. Yes, there are lots of places online, but they really don’t compare to meeting with others in person.
Maybe one day we will be able to be open about mental health and depression, maybe we will be able to talk to each other. My poetry is a way for me to share, and I am open when I talk to people too.
Remember depression doesn’t care who you are, you can be an ordinary person and get depression. It sucks, but I will say this for it, it doesn’t discriminate.