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When the Lies Depression Repeats to You Are Confirmed

Mental health issues can severely impact the way we think about ourselves. Our anxiety and depression can tell us “lies”. It can convince us we are unworthy. Time wasters. Attention seekers. A drain on the health system. As if the “lies” we tell ourselves aren’t bad enough, one part of society tells us that “It’s OK not to be OK,” while another part of society tells us “It’s not OK not to be OK.” Which is it?

My depression tells me I don’t deserve treatment. I’m not worthy. I should be ashamed of myself, of my mental state. I should hide away. I should make myself as small as possible. I should not take up any space in society. Then, I hear catchphrases like “It’s OK not to be OK.” (And of course its OK not to be OK.)

This phrase gives me hope. I reach out for help. I let someone know I’m not OK. I think I’m on the right path. Then, the health care system tells me “I’m a waste of time and resources” and I’m “taking time and resources away from people who can be helped and who deserve to be helped.” I’m told, “If you’re going to kill yourself, just do it, but don’t do it on my shift because I don’t want the paperwork. You’ve caused enough trouble already.” Friends tell me “chin up” or “Just choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice.” Now I see and hear the phrase “It’s OK not to be OK,” and I automatically skip over it and think, “Yeah, but not for me.” It no longer feels like my depression is lying to me. It feels like it’s telling me the truth.

My depression tells me I shouldn’t take up space in society. I should shrink myself as much as possible. Nobody likes me. Why would anyone like me? Why would anyone care about me? Three times recently, I’ve had someone on my street either come to my door or approach me at the shops. They all started with “Hi, I live across the road from you.” Every time, I automatically responded with, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry you have to live next to me. I’m sorry I exist in the same space as you. I’ll make sure I stay as small as I can. This isn’t what they were approaching me for. It was either to introduce themselves or let me know my car lights are on or something like that. I used to assume people were naturally friendly. That was until I heard, “No wonder no one likes you.” I’ve heard this from professionals, from family, from “good Christian people.”

“It can’t just be everyone else, it must be you. If that many people dislike you, maybe you should ask yourself why.” Maybe my depression wasn’t lying. Maybe if I shrink myself, people can live around me while I do my own thing. I don’t belong. Maybe my depression wasn’t lying. Maybe it was trying to keep me safe.

During the #MeToo movement, I kept thinking, yeah #MeToo, but not really, what happened to me doesn’t count. I know other people were disbelieved or thought they would be disbelieved, but I don’t even deserve to be believed. The police believed me for two minutes. Until they saw the evacuation plan. Then they asked what kind of place was I living in. I was in supported living because of my mental health. It was all downhill from there. They asked me what I had been wearing. Had I been drinking? Why had I showered? Why wouldn’t I see a doctor? I felt like I was in trouble. It wasn’t investigated. No one around me really acknowledged what happened. I lived with it while going along with everyone ignoring it. I shouldn’t have reported it. So #MeToo, but mine doesn’t count as much as everyone else’s #MetToo. I was too ashamed to add my name to that movement. My depression wasn’t lying to me. I don’t count as much as everyone else.

I don’t know which “lie” hurts the most, but this one is definitely up there. Crisis lines. Everyone pushes crisis lines in case of an emergency. Especially an out-of-hours emergency. Psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, general practitioners. They all promote crisis lines. The police promote crisis lines. Crisis lines promote crisis lines. My depression tells me I don’t count. My problems don’t count. I wouldn’t be a loss to society anyway. They’ll probably just laugh anyway.

I phoned. I was suicidal. They traced my call. The police came. I was still alive, but I was on my way out of the door. I was on my way to harm myself. The police told me because I hadn’t done anything to myself yet, I had made a false report and if I did it again, I would be charged. Now I see the crisis line promotions and think, “Yeah but not me. That’s not a service for me. They don’t mean people like me.”

It’s hard enough to determine when our mental health is lying to us. Having unsupportive or uneducated people around us or treating us, makes it all but impossible. I try to advocate for myself. I try to convince myself  I am worthy. I can take up space. I do deserve the same as everyone else. I try to silence the voice of depression. Society so often reinforces what the voice of depression tells me. Sometimes I feel as though my depression is trying to keep me safe. Protect me. Keep my expectations realistic. Everyone is not treated the same. The rules are not the same for everyone. Not everyone is welcome at a service. We are not all worth the same. That’s how I’m left feeling, anyway.

Getty image by solarseven