Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Crying Shame


'There is no reason to cry; it's not like anybody died, it's so stupid.'
'Crying is a sign of weakness.'
'Crying is embarrassing.'
'Crying means I have lost the battle.'

Sound familiar? These are all reasons we tell ourselves and other people, to convince us that we cannot and should not cry. It's all lies. 

Crying is a perfectly healthy physical response to overwhelming emotion. Happy, sad, relieved, angry and proud are just a few instances when people get the familiar 'welling up' feeling, but we look away, we take deep breaths and we fan our eyes because crying is inconvenient, it is shameful and it's just downright embarrassing. But why? Why have we become so afraid to cry?

"Like the ocean, tears are salt water. They lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones and contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes."

"Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state."

So tears are proven to have health benefits and can literally calm us down yet we, I, still find it hard to admit that I need to cry. 

I am an emotional person, even in the throws of an apathetic depression some sneaky emotions still wormed their way in and obliterated my tear ducts, but if I cry because I'm stressed or hurt then it must mean that I have lost. I am only just coming to terms with how ridiculously wrong (and stubborn) I am. I am a bottle and eventually I reach my fill, once that happens then I will either dramatically explode or become completely unable to take any more. Crying is a release, a purge and a bloody good one. Better than self harm, better than drugs or alcohol as this is something your body is prepared for and actually welcomes!

"Tears are your body's release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born or tears of relief when a difficult time has passed. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength and authenticity."

So, for the love of God, cry your heart out. Not literally, although I'm not sure that can be done but I wouldn't try it, just in case. But cry it all out, the pain, the fear, the tension. Cry at home, at a film, a book, an advert, a puppy, a tin of soup if you have to but just do it because your body will thank you for it*.

Cry and be sedated, cry and be liberated. 

*Your make-up, however, will not thank you so you might want to retouch and maybe carry some tissues and eye drops for the red eye.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Welcome To The Dark Side

I'm acutely aware of how difficult it is to have a friend who suffers from a mental illness. And, in turn, aware of how difficult it can be to have me as a friend who suffers from mental illness.

I have lived with and in mental illness for so long that it is completely normal to me. This is bad for two reasons:
1) You become completely unaware of how much worse you are getting.
2) You can start to become unsympathetic towards the world.
Both are very serious things in my eyes.

I became friends with someone who also suffers with serious depression and in our pairing we found comfort and safety, two against the world is better than one. But, in our pairing we shut out the rest of the world and cocooned ourselves in the seductive embrace of hatred. This created a 'nest' effect that was reinforcing our isolation.

When I started therapy, this began to change. I began to become more self aware, I questioned who I was and why I had let myself get this bad but without anyone to indicate or monitor it, there was no way I could have known. By saying that, I am not absolving myself of any blame, I am merely forgiving myself for something I now know I cannot control. In learning how to be a little less robotic, I began to see how mental health affected other people in my life and then, in turn, how their mental health affected me. Previously (and sometimes currently as I am not in the clear yet) I was unsympathetic to other people and their issues. I was unfairly judgemental because that is how I judge myself and I was of the mindset 'if I can be better then why can't they?'. Only, I wasn't better. I was unfairly taking out my loss of hope on them.

My friend has attempted suicide once and almost attempted it a few more times in the last year. She seems to be caught in a perpetual cycle of sadness that she cannot escape. She doesn't think she can be helped and so refuses it. I spent four years trying to 'save' her. My emotions ranged from wanting to help her, to being angry that she wouldn't help herself, to trying to save her from herself, to resenting her and then back to being a Savior.  It is more complicated than this (isn't it always?) but this is the general outline.

The point of this is, mental health may be more talked about, there may be a creative genius lurking in the shadows of a depressive's soul, I may be trying to show you a different side to depression on this blog but there is a darkness. There is a reason that mental health has the stigma it does, there is a reason that people think it to be a taboo subject and that is because it can get very messy and somewhat disturbing. 

Who wants to talk their best friend out of committing suicide?
Who can handle seeing a leg/arm full of self-inflicted scars?
What is 'normal' to me would still shock the general population and it is very easy for me to forget that fact. In the rare glimpses I get to look in on my own situation, I begin to understand why I'm so isolated.