Today, some of the UK's leading mental health organisations are asking people up and down the country to take five minutes to talk about mental health. The good news is that by reading this blog post you are doing just that - so have a gold star from me...
The thing about suffering from depression, or anxiety, or similar disorders, is that they are intangible. You break a leg, you wear a plaster cast. You catch a cold, you cough and sneeze. Even something less immediately obvious, like diabetes - you have a blood test and then you are in possession of a piece of paper that says that there is something wrong. When I was first diagnosed, quite a long time ago now, I requested a full gamut of tests because I was desperate to find a physical cause for the fact that my mental faculties were all over the place. I remember almost crying when they all came back normal - a dicky thyroid, low iron levels, these were medical problems. Being too anxious to function properly - that was not. Which meant on top of feeling god-bloody-awful I felt incredibly guilty as well.
Depression can be triggered by a traumatic event, by grief or by stress but it is separate and distinct from all of these things. And while everyone, sufferers most of all, want to hang on to a straightforward idea of cause and effect I don't think that ultimately it is helpful to focus on that to the detriment of coming up with coping strategies.
I don't really know what the point of this post is. Just, I suppose, to encourage anyone who may stumble across it to take a moment to look at the Time To Change website, or to think about someone in their circle who may be struggling with some of these issues. There is a wealth of information and help out there - and a good GP should be your first port of call if you or anyone you love is not waving but drowning.
And thank you, dearest reader, for taking five minutes from your day to read this post. Normal service (whatever that may be) will be resumed shortly.