I have depression.
I’ve spent too much of my life not admitting that and not accepting it, that now it feels important that I say it up front. Naming it and identifying it is an important part of understanding it and the effects it has had on me over the years.
Because this isn’t something new, this is something that’s been part of me for a long while, sometimes there and sometimes not, taking me to uncomfortable downs before receding for a while, making me think it was “just a bad patch” I could forget about as soon as I was past it. But then came the last few years, when the pressure of so many things was pushing me down even before a global pandemic came along to remind us that all our plans are always contingent.
With some parts of our body it’s easy to admit that they don’t work properly and need some assistance to work properly. My eyes are the wrong shape, so I wear glasses to allow me to see clearly, and in the past week I’ve seen a friend who needs extra oxygen because their lungs aren’t working properly and another who talked about the strangeness of walking without a limp after having their hip replaced recently. When it’s parts like that going wrong, we’re happy to talk about how we deal with it, how we cope with it and how we fix it, but when it’s our brains not functioning properly it’s a lot harder.
Back when I ran a marathon, I did it for Brain Research UK because of my family’s experience from that. My brother died from a brain tumour, then my mum’s last few years were about how dementia slowly took everything she was from her and us before she went. Ironically, I think it was the experience of those losses that made me so resistant to the idea that something in the way my brain works might be wrong. I could see the effect their conditions had on my brother and my mum, and the idea that I couldn’t trust my brain — my own mind — was something that scared me. I’d seen the way their conditions changed them, turning their brains against them, making them something that couldn’t be trusted, and my consolation would be that at least that wasn’t happening to me, at least I could trust my own thoughts.