Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dressing Table Wars

I suspect that aspects of the human self are as often at war with each other as suing for peace it is a confusing, even distressing scenario of which mind, body and spirit not unsurprisingly or infrequently grow weary, sometimes all at once, and we sink into depression.

Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to any form of mental illness, not least because few people understand it unless they have been depressed through it themselves or close to someone who has. It was much the same when I experienced a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago. Few people understood what I was going through, and it was only after a long, lonely battle over several years that I began to feel well again. I even managed to find and hold down a job although it would be a few more years yet before the sense of fighting a losing battle would leave me once and for all. Well, not quite once and for all, but I can honestly say that my quality of life and resistance to despair improved beyond measure as the years passed. I still take a m low dose (25mg) of antidepressant nightly and – as regular readers well know – writing has been more a creative therapy for me than an art form even as a child. (I will be 70 this year.)

Being depressed is nothing like being fed-up; it is a soul-destroying nightmare from which the depressed person can take a very long time to awaken, if ever.  An invisible illness, it is easily misunderstood. Sadly, one of the last people to recognize depression is the depressed person him/herself. Uncharacteristic mood swings, aggression, rudeness, bouts of crying for no obvious reason, over-reacting and getting things out of proportion…all these can be signs of depression, likely to culminate over a period of time in a firm of mental breakdown unless professional help and support is made available.

While the best help and support can be provided by family and friends, not everyone has family on hand while some friends feel so let down by a depressed person’s attitude towards them that they drift away; they SEE the same person, but have no idea of the emotional turmoil that person is going through and which, if left unchecked, may well permanently damage his or her whole personality.

To be fair, none of us are mind readers. Even so, the more sensitive and discerning family member or close friend will suspect something is wrong. Suggesting to someone they may be depressed will almost certainly meet with a hot denial in the first instance. Please don’t give up, but stick with it, no matter how tough it gets; and it will get tough, almost as much for the person who is trying to help as for the person who is mentally ill.

There are degrees of mental illness, of course. Whatever, there is no shame in it, especially in the kind of stressful, even dangerous world we live in with stress often coming at us from all sides to such an extent and at such a rate that even the strongest body, mind and spirit feels under siege.

Depression is not a battle that can be easily won, and certainly not alone. If you are depressed, don’t wait, as I did, for depression to get the better of you. Strike first. Ask for help or at least try and express something of how you feel to someone you sense will understand and help you to help yourself. Easily said than done, as I know only too well… 


Wall, shining like a mirror,
shadows dripping drops of light
like sweat on a battlefield

Words, pitting foe against foe;
a roaring in the head like sounds
of battle in a silent movie

Wall, a white board left blank
to any suggestions from the floor
on the subject of peace talks

Words, advancing like armies
from the shadows, unspoken fears
firing blindly for unshed tears

Wall, questioning the nature
of the beast, philosophy left to run
a lonely gamut of home truths

Words, starting to make sense
of sensibilities modern life so loves
to camouflage in Rat Race gear

Wall, a collage of human selves
reflecting vulnerability to dark forces
and potential for common sense

Words, moving lips in a mirror,
rehearsing a plea for help in restoring
mind, body and spirit 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

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