Tag Archives: depression

Time

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I mentioned last post about how I’ve been trying to not use my phone when I’m doing social stuff, because I want to be a part of things. It’s harder than you’d think, because we’re so conditioned now to document every meal and moment, and to take and re-take photos to prove our spontaneity. There’s a place for this, yes, but for me? I’m trying to be more in the moment.

But sometimes, I really do not like the moment.

This morning was the icing on a particularly nasty cake I’ve been baking for a while now. I was running late for a cycle class, and I do not cope with being late. So I took what I thought was a shortcut, and found myself going straight past the gym. I turned around and promptly repeated the exact same sequence of turns, and again… going straight past the gym.

As I sat at the lights waiting to do a third u-turn, I heard myself say something. Actually, it was pretty loud. Chances are the person waiting at the lights next to me also heard it.

One thing I am good at doing is talking to myself in ways that I wouldn’t dare or even dream of talking to other people. And to prove a point, I have turned what I said into a beautiful meme:

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And looking at those words, I feel ashamed of myself. I would unleash total fury at anyone who dared to use those words towards someone I love. Even towards someone I don’t know. You don’t talk to people like that, not in my world.

Except… I do. To myself.

And I’m sitting here, writing this, and I just want to cry. Because I know I meant it, at the time.

Time.

When I eventually got to the gym, I pushed myself through a big cardio workout, because I’d totally and utterly missed the class I wanted to go to. I was stretching afterwards, and a woman who’s become a good friend plopped herself down opposite me to chat.

We talked about time. About how moments are so important, and without investing in the importance of time – instant, immediate, now time – life kind of loses meaning.

It reminded me of a conversation I had last night, where again time was the topic. Don’t rush time, don’t force yourself forwards into things you can’t possibly predict the best outcome. Don’t worry about things that you don’t have the information about yet. Just be now. Time.

Which reminded me of a conversation I had on Sunday. Time. Time doesn’t exist, you just have now as your guarantee. Don’t let anxiety mess with now.

Time.

I need to remember those words I said to myself. Not because they’re true. But because of the horrific cruelty behind them, that I directed to myself. And I need to remember how I spent that moment, that time. Because life is so fleeting. I cannot put more time into talking that way to myself. Because fuck.

I might hear me.

I thought about things that I have heard other people say about me.

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photo by @kimmi_joy

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There comes a point where you can make a choice.

And I choose moments. I choose now.

And as hard as it’s going to be to change the thought patterns of a lifetime, I choose to remember that I have done something amazing. That I am strong.

And that I am about to help other people set themselves free.

 

 

Mental Health Month: Ivy Pearl Roses

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Beloved and I drive past the local cemetery several times a week.

I often try to catch a glimpse of the rabbits that swarm to the cemetery for some vampire-like zombie reasons, I’m sure. But this week, just yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a name on a tombstone.

Ivy Pearl Roses

The name made me smile. I disappeared into an imaginary world where dear Ivy Pearl had parents who were early onset hippies, deciding that they would bestow upon their daughter the name of living things, natural things, in the hope that as she grew up she would value the natural world and the beauty that is in it, the restorative nature of life and the like. That Ivy Pearl grew into a woman who spearheaded the equal education of women and girls, a woman who had several dogs and a garden and spent her days writing stern letters to the editor and toddling to the local postbox, licking the stamp and shoving it into place with a thumb that had a nail full of dirt from her garden.

Ivy Pearl Roses.

Not just one rose, but plural. I’ve heard the surname Rose many times, and went to primary school with a beautiful local family of that name. But I’d never heard the surname Roses before. Ivy Pearl was a woman born into an abundance of beauty and buds and growth and fragrance. Her name alone was a three stage reminder of the important things in life: To grow in all circumstances; to remember that even a grain of sand can make a difference; to encourage boundaries and respect, lest you feel the pinch of thorns.

The thing is that Ivy Pearl Roses was transcribed upon an old tombstone. She didn’t appear in the cemetery recently. In reality, I’ve probably driven straight past her a million times, unable to see her name because I’d been trying desperately to spot the zombie rabbits.

There’s this irony that exists in mental health, and being as it is Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m going to share it with you.

You can be going great guns for days. Inspirational as all fuck. You can be fighting and working steadily in your wellness, strong, brave, bold, consistent. And then, life. And then, people. And then, change. And then disappointment. It doesn’t matter what your Achilles heel might be when it comes to your mental health. For a while it literally was my Achilles (which has recovered beautifully, by the way). But eventually, things can start to get harder to navigate. Your world might crumble a little bit. Your brain kicks into overdrive. Tears. Tiredness. It gets hard to form sentences. Hard to concentrate. Hard to wake up. Hard to sleep.

What gets me is that it is unreasonable to expect that life is always going to be a course of sheer inspiration and joy. You don’t get told this when you are trying to recover from mental illness. Instead you learn to measure your wellness by how you feel, instead of how you manage. The reality is that you are going to feel sad if bad stuff happens – and happen, it will. But that doesn’t mean your recovery is over, or regressing. It a side effect of engaging in life. And in my mind, engaging in life is the goal of recovery.

What does this have to do with Ivy Pearl Roses?

That’s easy. Her name is a beautiful reminder of life.

Grow in all circumstances. Remember that even a grain of sand can make a difference. Encourage boundaries and respect, lest you feel the pinch of thorns.

Your head is where your feet are

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If you want to go all literal, that makes no sense. It’s not like you’re standing on your own head, which would be the absolute definition of your head being exactly where your feet are. It’s more of a mindfulness thing, which I am only recently becoming acquainted with. That whole “being aware” thing and being in the moment, blah blah, but hey it turns out I’m actually really, really shit at it.

My head gets distracted. I make typos because my hands can’t keep up, grammatically I’m generally very good though. So yeah, if you spot a typo it’s because my head has run away with my thoughts like a trollop and my hands are desperately trying to catch up.

I did warn you I get distracted.

Anyway today I did my fortnightly voluntary “tearing apart of headspace” thing with my therapist. I got home and prepared to lose my shit and looked to the right and hey there’s Harry as Superman, totally saving the day. Saving it. Thanks, big boy.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

My beloved and I went to the local pub for The Race That Stops a Nation. Melbourne Cup, people. This is a hard one. Two horses died at this race. Should it become the Nation that Stops a Race? Nice play on words, but fuck, there are so many horse races and horses are at risk at all of them. They’re loved and cared for and trained but yep, they can die. And so do dogs and people and buildings collapse and houses catch fire. I’m not sure what to think but I will tell you one thing: I won Best Footwear. Here’s the proof:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

So maybe my feet are placed at the cusp of victory? Maybe there’s a resolution in sight? Even now, when I honestly consider myself “recovered” from all the depression crap and the hard stuff, I still hit horrid days. Yesterday was one. Which is why I do the maintenance thing, and see my therapist. If it works and if it helps, my god we have to do it.

But it’s hard.

The thing that helps and the thing that is helping really make it tough sometimes. I’m doing this therapy called EMDR, and first cab off the rank is finally confronting losing my mum. I might blog about it, one day, but it’s something I haven’t honestly told you all about, and really it’s just been too bloody hard to say that it’s real and that this is life, that this is my life and she was my mum. And she still is, just… not here.

So while it’s hard and yucky and disruptive, I choose to keep facing it. I choose to keep doing it. For me, mostly. But for my beloved, for our future, for my family and my friends who believe in me and have stood by me. Do I resist it? Yup.

You know what they say about leading a horse to water…

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

That’s all I’ve got today. I do have  secret shame I wanted to share with you – current addiction to 18 Kids and Counting, the story of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar and that crazy clown car of a reproductive system that’s happening there, but that’s a story for another time.

If you’re in a shit storm, keep facing it.

Where is your head? Where are your feet? Do you practice mindfulness?

Prevent it.

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

One of my favourite posts I’ve written here on The Naughty Corner is this one. It’s called Stay.

In the 12 months since writing Stay, there have been almost 2500 deaths by suicide in Australia alone.  That is a lot of brothers. Sisters. Uncles. Aunties. Mums. Dads. Strangers, friends, grandparents, enemies, teachers, lawyers, footballers, musicians, real estate agents. The person who usually sits opposite you on the train. The person who sat in your seat on the bus last year. Someone who you didn’t even know twelve months ago.

Gone.

Snuffed out.

Finished.

The thing about suicide is that it’s been thought through. The person who commits suicide has considered it. They’ve looked at their options, and this is what they’ve come up with. This is the only way they could see to fix things, to change things, to get rid of the turmoil they’re living with.

I kind of feel like I wave the suicide awareness flag a lot here in The Naughty Corner. I’m a huge advocate for talking about mental health, and for removing the stigma that is associated with mental illness.

But people are still dying.

I re-read Stay and I stand by what I’ve written there. I wanted to write something different for 2014, but the thing is, Stay is where it’s at. Stay is what I would write, again and again.

Because we need each other, if we are to have any chance at staying.

I also wrote about Robin Williams. I’m sharing the link again, because sadly, heartbreakingly… it’s relevant.

Suicide has a way of infiltrating the life of every single human.

We need to be OK about talking about mental health.

Because we need each other.

People, help the people.

A bit of a think

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I’ve been a bit… missing in the blogosphere lately. It’s really hard to not feel like a massive failure, to be honest. I look at these amazing other bloggers, and see how their pages have more likes, they have more fans, they have paid work coming through… and here I am in Newcastle, living opposite a park with random wandering bulls, writing to a small (but distinguished) audience.

Another example of failuredom that I’m feeling at the moment revolves around a small white dog named Harry. He had a haircut this week and is handsome as all buggery. Here he is:

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but this handsome little lad loves to run in the park. As fast as he absolutely can. And on the weekend, my sister took him running. Oh Harry’s little legs propelled him around the park like a hound possessed. He had a glorious time!

Then my sister had to go back home, and the reality of disappointment hit: Harry’s mummy Kel cannot run. Mummy Kel is still waiting for ankle surgery. Mummy Kel is left feeling somewhat useless when it comes to meeting the athletic needs of a small white dog. My beautiful beloved takes him for a run while I throw the ball for Scouty, which is a really good solution.

But why can’t I do that?

Obviously, because my ankle is screwed.

That’s the thing about failure, I suppose – you never really feel it until you start comparing yourself to other people.

So here’s an approach I’m trying on for size.

I’m glad I am not as hairy as Scouty.

I’m glad I am not as smelly as those vomit flowers that only bloom once a year.

I’m glad I am more useful than the little pockets that some old-school underpants have on them.

At least I’m not a rectal thermometer!

I’m so proud of myself for not deciding to run with Harry and leading us both, at best, under a truck and at worst, through one of the many cow pats that now reside in the park.

Things could be worse.

Do you ever feel this way? How do you snap out of it?

The days that happen

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I reckon everyone who has a Facebook account has had the same images and the same statements of shock and sadness regarding the death of one man:

Image by Monty Brinton, at www.imdb.com

Image by Monty Brinton, at http://www.imdb.com

And it is shocking. It is sadIt’s horrific to think that there are depths of sadness and despair that can eventually swallow a life up, permanently snuffing out the flame of existence.

The thing is, I wish it wasn’t so shocking. I don’t want us to be so dumbfounded when suicide occurs. I want us to know that this is what can happen, when depression and mental illness spirals out of control. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of depression. And if you don’t know what it is like on that precipice of life and death, let me tell you:

Hope disappears. There is no more will to live. And regardless of every single spark of brightness around you, there is a certainty that it is not of you. It is not a part of you. The sparks do not belong to you, and the sparks shine regardless of whether or not you are there to see them. There is no light. No hope. No reason. And rather than ending with a moment that changes the world, in your suicidal state, you know that yours will be a simple and silent end of being. A relief, not just to yourself, but surely to every single person you interact with.

I don’t want this to be unknown. I don’t want you to have no idea of what it is like.

Because if you know, then you are aware.

And just like that, a scrap of stigma is stripped away.

We need to talk about this shit.

People often thank me for the more revealing posts I write, about mental health and my own times of total and utter despair of life. And I always reply the same way: Someone has to write about what it’s like. Someone has to be telling the truth and breaking the silence about this. And if I had to experience this stuff, the least I can do is try to force something good to come out of it.

Because, there are people.

There are people now, envying Robin Williams.

Thinking he had the right idea.

Wishing they could do the same.

Knowing beyond a doubt that this is the only answer to the way they are feeling.

And if that’s you, I can’t offer you a solution. Because mental health just doesn’t work that way.

But what I can offer you is this: Just… wait. Give it a day. If a day is too much, give it 12 hours. Still too much? Fine. Just put your plans on pause for an hour then. OK, half an hour. Take half an hour. And if you are inside, go outside. If you are outside, go inside. Change the scenery.

And then, count.

Not happy thoughts, not blessings or good things or any of that. Because right now, they just don’t cut it.

I want you to count what you can see. Grass? That’s 1. A wall? 2. Your feet? 3 and 4. Keep counting until you’ve run out of things that you can see. Then move on to things you can hear.

And as you feel those internal systems slowing down and calming. As you start to catch your breath. As you manage to lift your head, know this: It isn’t over. This is a battle. A battle that you are going to want to lose. A battle that seems to already have been won. No… it isn’t over.

But you did get through.

Now what?

Ask for help. Please. Find someone to ask for help. Your GP. A friend. Your neighbour. There will be someone.

I’m not going to tell you that your life matters, or that it’s a bad choice. But I am going to tell you that there are alternatives. You just need to slow down and put suicide off for long enough to start working out what those alternatives are.

And I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry that you are in this space. It’s fucked up. I know that because I’ve been here, too.

Which proves that you are not alone.

Which proves that survival is possible.

There are days like these. And the more we can talk about them, the better.

Image source unknown.

Image source unknown.

If you need someone to talk to, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat to them online at http://www.lifeline.org.au 

Five things that help me move through the Bad Days

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I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, so the next time I have a Bad Day I have a list of things that I know will help. I’m also writing it because I figure if everyone who is prone to Bad Days makes a list of five things that help, then we’d end up with an enormous list of things that someone having a Bad Day could stumble across, should they search for help. Be they tools or techniques or quirks – my hunch is that it doesn’t matter.

As long as they help.

So, for the days when my eyes won’t make contact with yours. The days when it hurts to turn my mouth upwards. The days when I hide behind “just tired” or “sore back” or “you’re annoying”. The days when it feels like the worst one ever. The days when I’m certain I’ve never felt this bad before. For all of those days, here are my top five strategies to get through.

5. Break it down

A day can feel like a huge, unconquerable amount of time. So, reduce it. An hour is full of minutes – 60 of them. That hour can still feel big when you are wavering on the edge. Smash it down to bite-size portions, and select a number of minutes that you can manage. It might be three. Then, for those three minutes? Give them a job. For three minutes, I will stand on grass. For three minutes, I will focus on breathing really s l o w l y. For three minutes, I will look out of a window and make a list of the things I can see. Or hear. Or smell.

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4. Get distract- – puppies! 

I’m fortunate in that I am already highly distractable. But this is a skill. Find something to distract you from the thoughts swirling around in your head. Get a handful of (raw) rice and count how many grains there are. Listen to a song and count the instruments. Immerse yourself in a book or a game or a movie or a walk or an album or a shower. I’m not saying this will get rid of your Bad Day – but it will give you a break from it.

 

3. Ring someone. 

Now, the trick with this one is this: you don’t have to tell them you are having a Bad Day. If you want to, feel free. But sometimes just talking about random and boring stuff provides enough connection to remind you that you are not all alone. The bonus with this one is that the person you call could be having their own Bad Day, and your call could help them, too.

 

2. Find something you know you are good at, and do it

Cook. Play. Write. Listen. Watch. Talk. Drum. Sing. Run. Walk. Breathe. Swim. Just – do something. If I stay idle, I just sink lower and lower. As hard as it is, sometimes the change you need has to come from yourself. It sucks and it is probably the most annoying thing to hear when you are in the midst of a Bad Day – but sadly, it’s true. And if you can’t think of anything you want to do? Find something you have to do. Vacuum. Mop. Dust. Wash up. Do the washing. Mow the lawn. Sweep cobwebs. Wash the car. Wash windows. Do something. Anything. Just… do.

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1. Go with it

You know, it would be totally unreasonable to think that every single day of your life is going to be fantastic. It’s not the way life rolls. We all have Bad Days and we all have days when we wish we just hadn’t woken up. The fact that you are having a Bad Day, or that you tend to have them regularly – remember that this is not your fault. This is not a failing on your part. You are more than your Bad Day. You are more than your illness. You are having a Bad Day, but you will be OK.

 

One last thing to leave myself with, when I refer back to this post when I am having a Bad Day:

You might be having a Bad Day, yes. But the Bad Day does not have you.

Do you have Bad Days? How do you cope? What are your tips?

 

Rain

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It’s Friday, I’m curled up with the dogs on the couch. The heater is casting a glow on the room. 

This week has been… hard. 

It’s the first week in several years that I haven’t had Cubs. I’m missing the Flatmate, who is no longer the Flatmate because she moved interstate. Last scraps of patience and hope being dry humped by a little silky terrier. And feeling like the most ungrateful twat on earth because amongst all of this, I have my beloved, my friends, my family – and I’m still managing to feel miserable. 

I can’t help but feel both angry and completely devastated about the way things have ended for me in Scouting. I’m still not sure how much I can say though. Officially, I can share with you that I am no longer a Cub leader. My Scout Group no longer exists. Our kids are trying to find another Group to join. I can’t even go with them as a parent helper because I’m not a parent. And just like that, something that has been a huge part of me for more than 5 years has been broken down and snuffed out. I can’t give details yet because leaders are under instructions to say “No comment”, and not to talk to media. But didn’t I just say I am no longer a leader? Hmm… stay tuned. 

But it is a peculiar pain, when something just… ends. Gone. Finished. Over. No more. We’re talking years of training, time, ideas, planning, doing, being. Uncountable hours of doing my best, in keeping with the Law and Promise. Helping kids find their voice, their confidence, their smile. Watching them realise that they are good at things. That there is more to life than school. That as a Group, we’re a family. This means a hell of a lot for kids in disadvantaged socio-economic areas. 

Fuck, it meant a hell of a lot to me, too. 

My family is all in Sydney. I can’t have kids. Teaching created way too much anxiety and upset for me. Depression often got the better of me. But Scouting is where I had the opportunity to give back to the community. It enabled me to be a part of the lives of kids. I can honestly say I remember each and every single kid that has come through those doors to my Cub Pack. And I could tell you something amazing about each and every one of those kids. Some talent or skill or quote or idea or achievement. Because in Scouting, everyone matters. 

Things have changed. 

You’ll note I have not said anything against any person, or any element of Scouting. I’ve named no names. Shared no detail. All in keeping with “No comment”. 

There are days like these. 

When the rain and the heater collide. When there is gloom inside and outside and you can’t be sure if the gloom outside seeped out from yourself, or it your gloom stems from the gloom outside. 

Maybe it’s best to just go with it. 

 

As much as it relies on me

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As much as it relies on me.

I think that’s the essential part of any decision, or any promise, or any commitment. It’s the unspoken part of the pinky swear. As much as it relies on me. It says that I’m going to do the best that I can do with all I am and all I have.

And so, I bring you: As much as it relies on me.

I’ve had a case of stink mood since late January. Of rotten, core of my being depression. There have been tears, tantrums, frustrations. I’ve said words I shouldn’t and thought thoughts that won’t be voiced. I’ve fought against it, and fought against my self, and fought against the people around me.

And then last night, I had an epiphany.

I realised that I’m making a mistake.

I have depression, but depression does not have me.

And so today, I have made a decision (as much as it relies on me). My depression will not have me. It will not have my words and my actions and my relationships and my memories. As much as it relies on me, and not chemical make up, I am going to take back what this depression has tried to have.

I’m really aware that this might sound like I think depression is a choice. It’s not true. Depression isn’t a choice. Who’d choose this? Who in their right mind would choose to feel like this?

I’m not at all saying you can choose to not be depressed. I’m not saying you can just get over it.

What I am saying is that I want to remove the power that this funk has had over me. Absolutely, I’m depressed at the moment. But just because my brain chemicals are a bit off at the moment does not mean that I am going to forget who I am.

As much as it relies on me, I am going to remember.

As much as it relies on me, I am going to remain committed to wellness, and the pursuit of getting myself back.

As much as it relies on me, I am going to rely on myself, and know that it is safe to do so.

As much as it relies on me.

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Another one

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No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne, Meditation 17.

There are things about life that unite us, that make us part of a community. Like Scouting, or being gay, or following a particular football team. It might be your family or your presence at an historic event. Elements and moments that mark us out as members of that group or community.

I’ve thought about this post for a little while, mainly because I’m not certain if what I’m going to write about is a universal thing or just something that happens in my own head. So hang in there with me. Hopefully, it’s going to be worth it. I’m writing with the intention for these words to fall respectfully, gently.

Charlotte Dawson. Television personality. Celebrity. Target. Friend. Sister.

A woman who had depression, and died on the 22nd of February, 2014.

I didn’t know her.

I know what I saw of her: a woman who seemed to boast intelligence, wit, beauty and a strong inner light. But I didn’t know her, not personally.

As an aside – there were people who thought they knew her well enough to try to destroy her, through an online barrage of abuse. Horrific stuff. It dismays me that as a species we still do this to each other. She fought the social media trolls, and as a nation we shook our heads and tut-tutted over the cyber-bullying.

But the damage was done.

When I heard the news that Charlotte Dawson had died, I have to admit: I wasn’t impacted because of who she was or the grieving that was to come for those who loved her. I was impacted because she and I are members of the same army. And to hear that a member of that army had died – I understood, I felt the bitterness of defeat, and I knew we had to keep fighting.

Like Charlotte, I have depression.

Like Charlotte, I’ve found myself at the bottom of the pit, fed up, exhausted, tired, dismayed. A weariness of the spirit that is so deep that even my words disappear.

To see that she had died once again reminded me of the nature of depression. It can be terminal.

Terminal.

And – this is the “Is it universal?” thing – when she died, I felt loss because she was one of us. She was on my team, in my army, part of my main and part of my continent, to quote Donne. Not because I knew her – but because we had that unifying bond.

So now that Charlotte has moved on and the Oscars have become the hashtag of the moment… What are you doing about depression? Because trust me – this isn’t a condition that goes away just because it isn’t trending.

I want to suggest to you three things that you can do about depression. Think about them. See if you can do one, two or all three of them. It’s not a ribbon you can pin on your shirt, but I reckon these things can help raise awareness.

1. Know where to send people for help. If someone tells me their mood is consistently poor, I always refer them to their GP. It’s general, it’s not confronting, it’s usually pretty doable. If they don’t have a GP, then tell them to try yours.

2. Know what it looks like when someone has depression. Something I didn’t know was that men and women experience depression in very different ways. You can find out what the symptoms are by clicking here.

3. Know your own warning signs. If you have depression, you’re going to know your warning signs. For me, my words start to get jumbled and I stop sleeping. Work out what your warning signs are, and when you start noticing them occurring over consecutive days, see your GP.

Charlotte Dawson, like many, many others, had depression. It’s a shitty thing to be united by, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe Charlotte’s passing can be my reminder can be my advice can help save someone.

Don’t be a had.

Be a has.

Ms Naughty Corner HAS depression… and will continue to fight like hell.

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