The one thing that annoys me is the well-worn phrase ‘everyone gets down at this time of year’. No. Those with clinical depression or who suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder should not have symptoms dismissed in such a light off-hand manner. Those with mental health problems – and do remember mental illness does not go away – are vulnerable and if they express such feelings they need to be taken seriously.
One way I respond to such nonsense about winter depression is to remind people that I can go low at any time of year. It does not merely require bad weather. I can be low even if the sun is shining if my triggers have combined with a down cycle in the ups and downs of my bi-polar life. I have been known to be manic in the winter.
Why is there still so much dismissal of the invisible pain of mental illness? No-one dismisses the arthritis sufferer who finds the damp weather exacerbates the condition and causes pain so why trivialise symptoms which can be life limiting and life threatening?
There are a range of useless comments used by those who do not understand mental illness.
‘We all get down sometimes’
‘It’s all in your head’
‘think how lucky you are’
‘you can’t expect to be happy all the time’
There is a clear difference between being unhappy and being depressed. If you are unhappy but still functioning normally each day the chances are you are not depressed. If you are overwhelmed with inexplicable sadness, loss of interest in things that previously brought enjoyment and you are finding normal every day tasks difficult you should seek help.
Let’s hope the first person you speak to doesn’t say, ‘but, everyone …………’
So, before you use that common winter phrase again, think carefully about to whom you are speaking. Is this a vulnerable person who could slide once more into a full-blown episode which requires hospital admission.