Of clichés and “Just be happy” ………….

I am not a fan of clichés – no doubt I use them, however I do try to check myself and work them out of my language suitcase.

When I hear clichés I experience a similar sensation to that of biting wool – my personal favourites include:

  • Always look on the bright side
  • You can’t have your cake and eat it too
  • Good things come to he who waits

But the ones that really go right to the top of the list for me are:-

  • It happened for a reason ….. errrr tell that to a raped six year old girl.
  • It’s all part of God’s plan …… really, he has a plan that included the above…. really??
  • Decide to be happy….. excuse me while I go and get some more bullets for my gun!

What I am building to, so how people gloss over people’s sadness and ill feelings by passing off some meaningless cliché.  I think this is especially galling for people who are struggling with depression and “being happy” ui is not really a choice, it is an unattainable dream.

People who have not suffered from depression, think that if I plaster a smile on my face, and put a look of eagerness on my mug that things are going to just feel okay. Possibly these are the same idiots who think a migraine is a little head ache and IBS is an upset tummy.

Depression is such a feeling of despair and sadness that envelopes you each day. Its like sliding down a black hole. At some point you do hit the bottom, and then you need to start the long and painful journey of literally clawing your way out of it.

I describe it as mourning for a death that never occurred. You feel bleak and sad, and no matter how much you smile and think happy thoughts, your default position is rather black.

Socialising and relating have always been hard work for me. Initially I put it down to shyness. Social interactions can be EXHAUSTING for someone suffering from depression. It takes a huge amount of courage and energy to fake happiness and an interest in people’s small talk. You learn to wear a public face, and become rather an accomplished performer, with various interchangeable masks.

One of my favourite shows is Dexter. Dexter Morgan is a covert serial killer governed by a strict moral code who works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood spatter analyst. The part I can relate to in this show, is when he is doing something socially, you hear him talk to himself, giving himself instruction that he needs to “smile now” and “place his arm here” and so on.

The book is more descriptive and you get a real sense of how he play-acts to fit in and appear “normal”. I relate to Dexter, not because he has a “dark passenger” that talks to him and encourages him to go and maim and kill bad people – not so much …. However it is the way that he needs to cue himself on how to behave and react to fit in to normal society. In a social setting I have been doing that for years.

As soon as I saw Dexter, I was able to really connect with this guy. I also realize that I am feeling better because I have similarities to Dexter a fictitious serial killer … that may well need therapy at a later stage.

The other thing that was a real “light bulb” moment was doing a Myers-Briggs personality profile about three years ago.

It is a longish process, but the bottom line is that it has an introvert/extrovert quota as part of the personality profile. The I/E ratio has nothing to do with whether you like people and enjoy a good party and a great glass of wine.

What is important is where you get your energy from (I para-phrase slightly, but if you are interested in a more technical discussion pop along to http://www.myersbriggs.org/).

For me socializing especially with people I don’t know – is draining and requires the use of large stores of energy – I also put this down to depression. With the Myers-Briggs profile it basically allows for the fact that some personality types socialize well because they gain energy from it, while other personality types can socialize, but for them, it requires energy, and often leaves them drained and wanting to go and hide in a dark corner somewhere. EUREKA – get the Myers person and his/her friend Briggs a glass of wine!!!

Before I close off, I stumbled across these statistics on depression in women come from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) which I thought were really interesting:-

  • One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
  • Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.
  • Depression is the number one cause of disability in women. (Wow that is a bit of a shocker when you see it set down like that.)
  • In general, married women experience depression more than single women do, and depression is common among young mothers who stay at home full-time with small children.
  • Women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are at much greater risk of depression.
  • At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression.
  • Depression can put women at risk of suicide. While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do.
  • Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.

Okay, so that is pretty much my rant on depression and my inability to be a social butterfly.

However that being said, this weekend I did manage to wear my hair like Pippa Longstocking and make it through a party and not be the first person to leave – its all about progress done in baby steps.