Do you have a mental health issue? How would you describe yourself or others?
Ms Glynn proves the words we use make a massive difference.
I’ve become more and more open about my mental health issues, writing about my experiences and talking more to those around me. I often find the more I open up, the more others feel liberated to do the same. It’s a chain reaction of words, each one freeing the next. But one word is starting to bother me.
Suffer I say it all the time. I suffer from depression. I suffer from anxiety. Or if I’m in a particularly optimistic mood: I suffered from depression. Language is a beautiful thing and there is rarely a time when I can’t accurately and specifically emote myself using words. So why do I choose this one?
I wonder if it’s my subconscious dredging up memories of a haggard person I barely recognise as myself, curled in a corner refusing to leave their room, unable to step out of their self imposed isolation. Does my subconscious still remember all the hurtful things I told it, day after day, night after night. Tossing one insult after another as if they were handfuls of dirt on a grave I’d dug myself. Do I still look back after all I’ve learnt and see only the pain and ‘suffering’? And if I’m using the present tense then on some level do I still feel like that person curled in the corner? After all I’ve gone through its easy to say I’m out the other side but perhaps my mind knows what my heart doesn’t want to accept. I will always ‘suffer’, even if that is only to suffer the memories and the fear of next time.
I still use this word like it is adequate, like it can some up those months, those years; when the truth is it is wholly inadequate, because it only tells one side of the story. It tells of the person in the room who refuses to come out, hiding in the dark, wrapped up tight in their comforting sadness. It tells nothing of what happened next. Some part of me broke out of the room and fought, fought for life, for happiness, for freedom from the chains I had welded myself into. I wasn’t suffering then; I was battling, I was conquering and somehow I was winning. And yet that’s not how I describe it. I don’t say I’m battling depression, I say I suffer from depression. We need to change the narrative and take back control of our ill-health. I get to decide how I tell people I have depression and how I say that one sentence can set the tone for someone else’s entire battle. Perhaps it’s time we take that responsibility seriously. I don’t suffer from depression. I battled depression, I fought with everything I had, I still fight. Every. Single. Day. And I conquer depression. Every. Single. Day. Everyday I don’t slip down the rabbit hole I’m winning, conquering.
Hero’s don’t just wear capes they look like you and me and they’ve vanquished an evil so great it changed the very foundation of who they were. These hero’s don’t suffer. They conquer.
Have a good day tomorrow