I recently heard about an acquaintance who had died. I did not know this man very well at all and only knew about this because of the business circle and so word got around. I was sad for the family and friends of this young man. Later one of his associates mentioned that he had died from depression.
“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.” ― John Keats
Now, being a person who suffers from “Recurrent Major Depression” I am aware of the stigma attached to depression. Those who don’t understand depression or have never had a depressive episode often just don’t get it. They are the ones who will tell others to “snap out of it.”
Depression is often not seen as an illness. People would rather say that a person committed suicide than say that a person died of depression. When people die of other illnesses, their deaths aren’t described in detail; just the name of their illness will be used yet not so with depression; there will always be the description.
“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
My point is that depression is a real illness; people do die from it. It is not a feeling of being just sad or blue; it is a dark, and lonely place, which very few understand or even try to understand. Please be kind to those who suffer from it.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This is the reason I started blogging. I found it to be a good way of telling it the way I see and feel it. The thing that makes me very sad, and lately especially, don’t know why, but when I look back and see what a deep dark hole I was in at one particular time, I feel so ashamed. Logically that is silly, isn’t it, because I should look back and think about how I held on with all my might… I should think that way, but I don’t.
I am grateful to have held on and that I was able to use the little courage I had to keep going.
When we boarded a connecting flight from Honk Kong to Johannesburg, we were utterly exhausted. My nerves were, to say the least, a little on edge.
The lack of sleep did not help the situation much. When we were in the air, the flight attendant gave us the usual warm facecloth and offered us fresh juice. My little girl, who was parched, happily took a glass of orange juice. No sooner had she taken a sip had she dropped the juice. I was drying her with a tissue and used my facecloth to mop up the rest of the juice.
As I was bending over trying to help my little daughter, who felt awful about dropping her juice, I heard a soft foreign voice just next to me saying “hello.” I looked up and saw a Chinese man handing me his facecloth. He looked just as tired as we were. “It’s ok I said, I think I’ve cleaned the worst up.”
As he looked back at me, I realised that he didn’t understand a word I was saying. It was when I saw a very kind, soft, gentle look in his eyes, that I accepted his facecloth. I nodded once, lowered my head and said thank you. He smiled and went back to his seat. I saw that he also had his little daughter travelling with him so I realised why he understood.
Not long after the flight attendant came to help and gave my daughter a new glass of juice. She made my little daughter feel so much better and had her smiling and laughing again. It is small gestures such as these that warm my heart. The image of those kind and gentle eyes will stay etched in my memory…
My motto is being kind when ever possible. There are times that my humanness interferes with my good intentions; that is something I think most of us will understand, but that will not stop me from trying.
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
The prompt for this week’s writing challenge is to take a walk and write about what you see in your neighbourhood. It was the part of the prompt in inverted commas below which prompted me to write the following post:
“Look in a different direction. If you normally keep your eyes down when you walk, look up. If you normally scan the treetops, look down. Make a conscious effort to direct your gaze in a different direction: up, down, left, or right.”