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I don't mean to be gloomy, but I really can't shake this speculation.

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"Five women a year here die of ectopic pregnancy", says my mother to my recuperating sister. "You could have died. You've had an operation."

"Are you okay?" She says, and repeats, every time my sister takes a second extra to blink or breathes too deeply. My sister is bored of having been indoors for two days straight, and wants all the windows and doors open so a fresh, icy breeze can come through. Later my mother will take her for a ten minute drive in our car, for a change of scenery.

There is nothing wrong with any of this, of course. My sister unknowingly had an ectopic pregnancy and was operated on just in time after her fallopian tube ruptured. She says she feels fine other than her stomach being sore when she bends, coughs, sneezes or laughs. But mothers being mothers, ours has fussed and plumped and fetched and fawned and expected me to do much of the same while indulging her conversation of how easily my sister could have been worse off or her shouting at me in the middle of a hospital because staff won't get my sister's water quickly enough.

In January 2012, I was finally diagnosed with severe depression by a psychologist I had to argue for. At this point, my mother finally took it seriously, though she rarely does anything to help me with it to this day and often seems to forget it entirely, "why are you being so boring today?", "don't be so lazy" or "why can't you take a joke?" being thrown out more often than I can count. In reality, this depression had plagued me since I was thirteen, in early 2008. It was to stay following the death of my grandmother and the gradual increase of direct psychological and emotional abuse from a sociopathic father I had to argue against and get myself disowned by to make him leave the family home earlier this year. I had tried several times during this period to tell people how I felt, but it was literally laughed off as "being a teenager" and "having nothing to be unhappy about" by teachers and parents alike. I was suicidal at many points during these events.

In the UK, 100,000 adolescents alone die by suicide every year, often related to depression.

My operation is the gruelling sessions dissecting my own mind and what is wrong with it with my psychologist. My physiotherapy is the work I do to change these things in my own time. My recovery could take weeks, months or years.

Why, when we break down and can't drag ourselves out of bed, can't see a meaning in our lives, can't be happy or even okay behind the brave faces so many of us put on, can't phrase the pain we feel, can't believe in ourselves any more, don't the people who know of our issues send us get well cards? Why don't they seem to ask us if we're okay each time a frown crosses our face? Why don't they reassure us that they care, or express any of such unusual concern for us, with problems that are in fact often more emotionally demanding than physical injuries can be? Many people I know have or have suffered with mental illnesses, but few to none have received such support from their families.

I can only hope that these friends and I are not the majority in this isolated situation with mental illness, but it seems to be a recurring fact that people cannot comprehend that mental illness is legitimate, needs care and is a difficult thing to live with despite overflowing with sympathy at physical hurt. I'm not saying such fuss should really be expressed and I'm not saying I or others would even want it, but this comparison and what I've seen in the past few days prompts me to ask; why don't people (especially of older generations) support those with mental illnesses as readily as those with physical issues? At the risk of sounding insensitive, I would wager that mental illness is far more devastating than many physical issues could ever be (though many physical issues can result in mental anguish). And yet in the time I have suffered with this depression, very few people have even bothered to remember, ask after or support me with it. Why should I or anyone else have to say I'm having a bad day with it when, if your friend walked in on crutches because they'd been hurt, you'd immediately ask if they were alright? Why don't people just make effort to remember and do something a little bit thoughtful to show that someone cares about you and you don't have to stay in such a dark place alone?

But as I type this, my mother is out to get us all a meal of my sister's sole choosing and will soon be back to continue her caring duties for one physically damaged daughter while the other limps upstairs sometimes, too - with a different kind of crippling pain.

I love my sister dearly and hope with all my heart that she gets better without any issues, but at times like this my mother's inability to recognise I need similar support all the time makes me feel somewhat disappointed. In this day and age, I just can't understand how people have so little understanding of/offer so little consistent support with mental illnesses.

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Updated 27th October 2012 at 10:01 AM by Opal



  1. Pidgeot's Avatar
    I completely agree with you. Mental illnesses are something that not enough people take seriously. But the reason why is because they aren't visible. Anyone could see that you were in physical pain, but it takes a really close friend or family member to know you are suffering mentally. And I can relate to how you feel, too - admittedly there are times when I feel depressed in and out of my home, but I'm able to push through it eventually. I just prefer being on my own because that way, there's no reason for me to be depressed and I can just ignore everything that's going on and just live in my little world of videogames, internet, TV etc. to keep me sane and in a positive state of mind.
  2. Baf's Avatar
    I guess it's because people can find it easier to sympathise with someone with a physical ailment, it's harder to imagine the pain that those with depression and anxiety go through everyday. It's easier to imagine the pain that a broken arm can bring on, but it's more difficult to imagine how someone can be so close to killing themselves when they have never felt so low.

    Jodie, I also have depression so I know what your going through, it was only until my mum was diagnosed with depression that she could begin to understand how people can feel, even if they're alright on the outside. You can always talk to me when you're feeling at your lowest, I'll always have open arms for you :)
  3. Ghetsis-Dennis's Avatar
    People with mental illnesses deserve as much sympathy and respect as everyone else.
  4. ScarletSky's Avatar
    This is the reality of things of unfortunately. If people can't see it, they likely won't have a clue something is wrong unless you tell them. But sometimes even when you say something, it's regarded matter-of-factly, because most people don't take such a thing seriously. Myself, I've been diagnosed with depression too. It's a very recurring problem for me as well, even though there is rarely a definitive reason for it. Sometimes I just wake up feeling that way and can't shake it easily. I usually try to seek solace via talking with anyone I'm able to, so I have something else to think about instead.
    In your case, it would help greatly if you could find people to talk to about whatever is on your mind. A psychologist is helpful, but you can't go to him 24/7 I don't think. :s By all means, I'm willing to talk with you if you need someone to speak with. I'm certain plenty of others here are willing to lend a helping hand as well.
  5. Infinity Mk-II's Avatar
    Lots of people are simply clueless. They simply cannot understand much beyond physical pain (and even then be lucky they can grasp the gravity of not visually obvious situations), because they are so convinced they know how the world works and dislike to think about things.
    If your mother has in her mind you're a bratty teenager, then she has constructed an universe like so for herself and will act accordingly, ignoring anything from reality that doesn't fit in it.
    In a way, it's kind of a coping mechanism to simplify the world.

    I will agree that you need to find people that aren't like that. Here, or even the internet as a whole is a good place because you can easilly find people that also understand this same pain.

    ... Unfortunately, that's because it's a common occurence that younger people suffer through all sort of pains that older generations don't take seriously because of their own delusions.
  6. Sunburn's Avatar
    I haven't been diagnosed with depression, but I do know that it's much harder for people to sympathize with others when their ailments are not physical, but rather mental. I'm sure your mother means well, but unfortunately, it seems like she just doesn't understand. She doesn't know what you're going through, and maybe she's just not close enough to understand, or it could be something else, I'm not sure. At any rate, like the rest of the people who have commented on this, we are here for you if you ever need to talk. I may not be able to relate as readily as some can, but you can bet I'll do my damndest to try. We all love having you here, and we love you :)
  7. Opal's Avatar
    Oh, I have to admit, I've begun to rely on people here more, especially the staff and people on Skype like you, Sunburn. :P Between keeping busy and having people to talk to I'm vastly improving compared to the wreck I was nine months ago, who barely got out of bed except to bathe and barely ate a thing. I just don't like how some people honestly can't understand one thing while slathering so much sympathy on another.

    It is true that older generations are (generally, anyway) not geared toward thinking/more-than-basic empathy, in my experience. It's just such a shame that so many people don't get support they deserve even when people are aware of their problems.


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