Humans with depression
To coincide with Depression Awareness Week and inspired by the 'Humans of New York' project we've complied a blog to give people a space to voice their thoughts and experiences of depression. If you want to share your story please tweet @DepressionAll
“Mental health problems can be an overwhelming darkness; my depression can engulf and submerge me to the point at which I can’t find the light. Yet even in my darkest moments, comedy can reach me when nothing else can. Comedy is the light. Hearing people laugh in recognition of my struggles with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and even psychosis is incredibly powerful. Comedy is always a victory for my sanity. It can make difficult subjects accessible; conversations with laughter last longer, so by turning my life to comedy I’m able to find a way to laugh at my struggles and help other people understand them more fully in the process. By laughing at the absurdity of what I have been through and go through, the pain of my conditions loses its edge and its power over me. Comedy is my saviour; laughter continues to rescue me from myself.”
Juliette Burton is a docu-comedian, actress, writer, performer. She was diagnosed with depression and bipolar aged 15. She still is in ongoing therapy. She performs her monthly free comedy night 'Juliette Burton's Happy Hour' at The Canvas E1 in Shoreditch the first Tuesday of every month and her hour-long docu-comedy show 'Look At Me' at Brighton's Komedia on 28 May and London's Leicester Square Theatre on 17 and 18 June (tickets on sale now). For more on her follow her @JulietteBurton and visit www.julietteburton.co.uk
"I think what helped me most was when I stopped apologising for who I was. At first I felt so guilty about what I was experiencing, everyone around me would say, "What do you have to be sad about, hmm?"
But that is exactly it, sadness and depression aren't the same. Being depressed doesn't make you wrong or selfish, it makes you human. When I finally understood that I was able to truly embrace the healing process. And its been a lot of work but I really feel like I am moving forward now, instead of stagnating inside negative thought processes and self depreciation."
"There's a bottom line to comedy: laughter helps. Being in a group of friends, or on a stage, hearing people laugh at a joke I just came up with or worked on for the past week helped me forget about the hole that depression carved in my brain, the blank feeling I felt going through the usual motions, the total deadness. Laughter gave me a reason to keep going - it was a little nugget of escape, a reminder that things were still the same that they'd always been, a constant. That's why I saw comedy or acted in comedy as much as I could: because laughter helped."
Having depression is exhausting. It’s a weight you carry with you everywhere you go. It’s a fight to keep a smile on your face all day when all you want to do is go home and crumble. It’s the struggle to get out of bed in the morning when you wish you could just go back to sleep and never wake up again. But most of all, it’s a burden that makes you feel constantly alone, even in a room full of people. But it doesn’t have to be. For years I accepted the fact that I was depressed. I dropped out of college, isolated myself, sat with my sadness, and just felt it. As I would check off my list of things to do every day: wake up-ish, eat food, sit alone, be sad, go to sleep, repeat; I quickly got bored. Of course I didn’t want to live anymore, who would? I wanted to do things to make myself feel better like be social, try new things, do my hobbies, but I just couldn’t get myself to do anything. I’ve been through a lot of therapists, but it’s all about finding the right one. And luckily, I did. She helped me turn my life around. Now I am back in school, pursuing my passions, and finding the inner strength to push myself to be more social and to try new things. I still have days when I feel sad and alone, but when I look back at what I have accomplished, I feel comfort. I use a role model as inspiration for when times get tough, my friends for support when I feel like I’m slipping, and my therapist as a net to make sure I don’t fall down to rock bottom again. Spreading awareness for depression is extremely important, not just for the people who don’t know much about it, but also for those who are depressed. They need to know that they are NOT alone, no matter what their depression tells them. The only person who can truly save you is yourself, but it’s okay to get some help along the way. We can get through this. You can get through this. If you are reading this right now, I believe in you, whether you have depression or not. Stay strong and fight on lovelies.
“I really appreciate that one of Depression Alliance’s strategic objectives is “to support those affected by depression to make positive use of their experience”. Mental illness is so frequently looked at as a problem that must be dealt with or overcome, and there is very little dialogue about the positives that can come out of living with a mental illness. For me, living with depression and anxiety for about ten years now has been without question a great challenge, however, it has also forced me to learn to be extremely introspective and in touch with my emotions. I think one of the toughest aspects of dealing with a mental illness for me, has been learning how to separate who I truly am from the lows that depression and anxiety can cause. However, I take every day as it comes, and with every new day I understand myself just a bit more. The most important lesson I have learned from my experience with depression and anxiety is to always prioritize mental health and wellbeing. I believe this is something that as a society we should stress as highly important in all of our lives, mental illness or not. I do not view my depression and anxiety as a weakness, the way I have been taught to, but rather I look at it as a part of who I am that I have and still can learn so much from.”
“I’ve struggled with my own bouts of depression after my parents’ divorce. There were times last year where I couldn’t even muster the strength to walk to class. I credit my ability to laugh at myself and the funny little snippets of everyday life for giving me strength when I needed it most. The joy of laughter was what I’ve always lived for, and what I will continue living for.”
“A near constant battle
Returns to rattle
Surrounded by gloom.
A small cherub hypnotized
Touts a gun
twice his size
'bout to land
The gun in his hand
On the temple surrounded by gloom
With a smirk on his face
He won't even debate
Pulling the trigger
Away goes the world
Safely nestled instead of a skull
Grinning with glee
The cheeribe just sees
Where the gloom used to grow.”
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