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Today is a special person’s birthday.
What makes her special?  Well, there are a lot of reasons but mainly that she doesn’t know how special she is.  She battles and battles with depression so this week’s post is inspired by her.
It is also inspired by all of you who continue to read my posts – if you are here and reading this, you are working on yourself and working to find ways to cope better and be well.  That means that you are more awesome and special than you know and I am constantly inspired by you!

Depression (and all mental illness) is one of the hardest illnesses for people to understand.
Let’s look at what it is NOT:
Depression is not just feeling sad.
You cannot just “snap” out of it, no matter how much you wish you could.
Depression is not about feeling sorry for yourself or attention seeking.
It is not just a psychological illness – it affects you physically as well, and sometimes the physical effects feel so much worse than the psychological ones.  The constant tiredness, low energy and ongoing pain can be the most debilitating part of depression.
Depression is not the same in every one – some people can have it quite mildly while others are in such a deep, dark space, they don’t even have the energy to contemplate killing themselves.
Depression is not that different from any other illness like diabetes, asthma or hypertension – it is just in a different part of your body – there should not ever be a competition about which one is more serious, which is more life threatening, which one should receive more attention and which one should get more funding.

Every illness is a battle but obviously depression is close to my heart because I work with it every day.
If you have depression, you have some responsibilities that come with it:
You are responsible for being an advocate for your rights.
You are responsible for being an ambassador for mental health and being a true role model for taking responsibility for your health and well being.
You are responsible for not using it as an excuse either – there are people with all kinds of mental and physical illnesses who keep on working at getting better and finding better ways to be the best person that they can be.  They don’t let it determine who they are or what they can or can’t do.

If you have depression, please share this with people to help them to understand you better and to start a conversation about mental health.
If you know somebody who has depression, be kind and understanding.  I could not say it as eloquently as Stephen Fry – the wonderful man who has really given a voice to depression:

stephen-fry depression