‘The Enemy’ Strikes Back and Then Some…

We all have fears. Having the strength to acknowledge them is the beginning of winning the battle. Today I am facing mine and sharing it with you. I am scared.

There are things I fear in this life: death of loved ones, living in a disrupted country, a fractured world… standard stuff.

My big fear

There is one big fear, ‘The Fear’ that has dogged me for over twenty years; depression. From the first diagnosis I have feared it; what it does when it is here, and its potential return after my recovery.

This is not what I had in mind for my life when I made those dreams as a child, studied hard as a teenager, and felt like the world was there for the taking as a young adult.

Is this another piece about depression? Yes. Are there too many of them out there? Never.

Whilst the notion exists that it is an ‘invisible illness’ that can therefore be ignored, no amount of exposing the ugly truth can be too much in my opinion. Maybe today I can create another crack in the wall of stigma.

This is where it falls apart as I’m trying my hardest not to press the delete key or never post this on my blog.

I am a hypocrite.

I try my best to raise awareness of the implications of mental illnesses and support campaigns. I will not allow vulgar and ignorant comments regarding mental illness to clog up my feed or be bandied around in my presence. I have been known to question or confront people for it, depending upon their level of knowledge and intent.

I am writing a novel based upon a woman’s fight with depression, in a manner of pathos and humour. It’s not a vessel for a one-woman mission to enlighten the world about this malicious illness called depression, but rather because I needed to write it.

If someone is better educated about depression for reading it, this would be amazing. If it helps someone struggling with depression, that’s even better.

Mainly, I wrote it for me. I wrote it for my past self who was shattered by it. I wrote it for my present self (at the beginning of writing) to show my past self how far we had come. I wrote it for a future self who may one day be taken down again by ‘The Enemy’. I wrote it so I could dispel the shame and guilt many feel about being depressed.

I am a hypocrite.

Here is where we get to the crux of why I am writing this. Apologies that this is a long post but I hope you’ll stick with me and understand why I need to write so much. I’m surprising myself with how I’m managing to find the words!

A few weeks ago I went to see my GP and I now have the official but frankly shitty diagnosis of being depressed. I am on medication again and I hate it. ‘The Fear’ has become reality. ‘The Enemy’ strikes back.

I thought after decades of this, on and off, I would not see myself as deficient for having depression. I believed that I would no longer view myself as weak for needing a pill to sort out my duff brain chemistry. In well times I told myself all this was true. Rose-tinted glasses present a shiny and convenient view.

I am an intelligent woman. I know depression is an illness. Please don’t deluge me with analogies of how if I was asthmatic I’m not weak for using an inhaler. If I’m diabetic, I need my insulin. If I have a broken leg, I must take time to heal. There is very little now that you can tell me, or conjure into imagery, about depression that I have not read, heard or learnt. This is not meant as a rant. It’s just become so tiring but still I don’t take it fully on board.

I am a hypocrite.

I have apologised to my husband for inflicting upon our relationship another potentially dark time. He told me off, and rightly so. I did not bring this upon us. I did not choose this. It chose me. Thanks very much, I don’t think.

Still I cannot help but be sad and angry that we have to go through this again. Last time it was bleak but he remained my constant throughout. I know he will be again. I should understand that he does not see depression when he looks at me.

I am a hypocrite.

I advised someone recently to get help for what I could see was probably depression. When his doctor prescribed antidepressants, I declared that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I try to support and empathise with him. Why do I not do this for myself?

Why did I put off for a few months going to see my GP? Why do I despise taking these tablets and feeling like I’ve failed because I have to have them? Why do I evaluate myself as lesser than those who don’t get depression?

I am a hypocrite… but maybe I’m learning not to be so much of one

For the first time ever, I went to see the doctor much earlier on than before. I am getting better at spotting the signs and seeking help. I am not severely depressed as I have been previously. It could get worse. I’m starting to struggle with some things but I’m learning to go easier on myself.

Maybe I am not so much of a hypocrite.

I told my husband as soon as I felt it creeping in. We monitored it together, thinking it may be something else. We did regular checks and agreed it was time to go and get the diagnosis.

Maybe I am not so much of a hypocrite.

I fear if this gets worse that I may not be able to write. Some days it’s a struggle. Drafting and editing is tough as it is! It’s difficult to concentrate when you’re depressed and it can suck the joy out of the things you love.

I am writing when I can but unlike in the past where I would work myself twice as hard to overcompensate, I’m doing it little by little. I am practising the self-care I keep telling others to adopt. I will work slowly but surely on this novel and smile as I contemplate if life is imitating art or vice versa.

I hope you will stay with me if the blog posts aren’t coming at you every Monday. I will try my best to stay on track. I love blogging and I value your support. I also value my mental health.

Maybe I am not so much of a hypocrite.

Please spare me the depressed writer clichés. I know it happens a lot and I’m not dismissing it. I even used a quote from Sylvia Plath because I can relate.  I only started writing earlier this year so I don’t fit the criteria of writing bringing on depression.

I don’t want to be a poster girl for depressed writers. I am a woman who has dodgy wiring and a heart that’s too large for this world. I happen to also be a writer with depression. There, I said it.

Maybe I am not so much of a hypocrite.

I have written this knowing that it will go out there to the world and it is no longer my private business. I could have kept it to myself but I felt like this had to be written. Some people will understand this. Others won’t.

We all should do what we need in order to survive, but I am petrified that I will now be viewed as a depressive rather than as a writer and a human being. This is the hardest one of all to counteract in the hypocrisy stakes.

The fearful part of me begs, ‘Don’t do this. Some people will view you as self-indulgent and whiny. Lisa, you’re shooting yourself in the foot because they’ll now bombard you with the ‘sorrys’ and the platitudes. Many won’t care. They don’t want to understand or make sense of this illness that has nothing to do with them or anyone they know. They’ll think this is a ploy to sell your novel that is based around depression. They loved your funny blog posts and now you’re bringing them down.’

This is the mind of an anxious person who battles everyday with ridiculous, negative thoughts. Welcome to the world of depression. It’s exhausting.

Then the positive, truthful thoughts come and I know I have to share this, regardless of what the fallout may be.

The truth states, ‘You must do this. Not everyone will judge you as weak. If people want to offer sympathy, it’s because they care. If false platitudes come, laugh at them as you do at so much that is written on social media. Some people may not read beyond the first paragraph, if at all. This could be apathy, disinterest or a fear of the unknown. We all have areas in life we don’t want to go near. We all think, to a degree, we live charmed lives if we don’t look under the covers and unearth the scary monsters. As far as this being marketing tool for selling my novel; there are far less painful methods. This may not be a humorous post but normal service will soon be resumed.’

Thanks for reading this far. You give me hope in doing so. Today is the beginning of acknowledging that the enemy has struck back, but I am now using writing as my counterattack.

Maybe I am not so much of a hypocrite after all…

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

36 comments on “‘The Enemy’ Strikes Back and Then Some…

  1. Thanks for sharing Lisa. Mental health awareness is important, and honest posts like this are the best way for other people to know they are not alone. Sending hugs and love and prayers your way E xxx

  2. Thought provoking post Lisa, from someone who admittedly does not know much about depression, so I thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing this. I hope you continue to write if and when you can xx

  3. You are beautiful and courageous, Lisa!! Writing about your struggles with depression does not define you as a writer or who you are as a person. I mostly write about depression but that doesn’t mean I can’t write beautifully about other things as well! I choose to write about it to spread awareness. Adding your powerful voice to that message of awareness is a wonderful thing and it does not take away from the typical tone of your blog, it adds to the depth of your writing style. That’s just my humble opinion 🙂 If you ever want to write a piece specifically for ‘the cause’ please contact me, I run a series to fight stigmas and raise awareness!!

    1. I’ve been following your blog recently and, with complete honesty, after reading one of your posts which resonated, I felt then that I needed to write this. I respect your candour and your expression in your writing. Of course I also applaud the part you’re playing in raising awareness.

      Thank you for your words, both here and in your blog. I would consider it an honour to write a piece to stand alongside you in the future.

      1. Wow! I hardly know what to say, you are too kind 🙂 Thank you and know that there will always be a place for you on Sidereal Catalyst!! Also know that I am here for you if you need someone who understands the struggle, please don’t hesitate to contact me on a personal level <3

    1. I’m so pleased that you recovered. I know it’s possible as I’ve come out of this before. Thanks so much for reading and I wish you continued good mental health.

  4. This is beautiful and I’m so glad you wrote it and was able to hit that publish button. I, too, suffer from depression, along with generalized anxiety disorder and wrote a couple posts that took me a few more minutes to hit that publish button than other posts. But that’s what for the wheels turning about how there is still a stigma, which needs to be removed. And thus, my focus was created. Keep speaking out, share your journey! It may be difficult to do at first, but if we can shoo help one person at a time, it’s well worth it!

    1. Thank you for writing those posts and putting them out there. People like you help me to be brave enough to contribute to the one voice that will hopefully crush the stigma one day. I wish you well with this and your health.

  5. Beautifully written Lisa, thank you for sharing. It really does help, especially as someone that has not dealt with depression on that level. It gives me insight, and it will help in my dealings with people that do. It’s so hard watching a person go through this, the questions of how to help, what can we do, what should we say are always running through our heads. I love your plan to counterattack, you are strong and brave! Be well. <3

    1. Thank you Lena. I’ve been on the other side in supporting loved ones with depression and it’s incredibly difficult to know whether you’re helping or hindering them. Even as someone who has been there, every person’s experience is different.

      Sadly it also tends to make the person going through it feel more isolated and tortured by negative thinking that tells them they’re not worth the love and care. It takes a strong and exceptionally loving person to break through that. Thank goodness I found that in my best friend and then also my husband.

      I’m heartened that in some way this post can help you acquire more knowledge and thanks for your honesty. I know I appreciate it more when people tell me they don’t have the answers, but they can listen and be there.

      Thanks, as ever, for your support.

  6. Hows laughter at points (all the anxious thoughts) and tears at the end for a reaction? I had both while reading this because this is so relatable.

  7. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing and being vulnerable with us. As someone who has been in the ups and downs of depression, I feel you. Sending positive thoughts out to you during this time.

  8. Wonderful! Congrats on sharing this. Yes, we all love your ‘funny’ posts, but this is very much in your style too – it’s honest. You’re great at being honest, and that’s why I enjoy your blog posts. Also, congrats on working through your own ‘hypocrite’ issue. Something few are even aware of let alone prepared to tackle.

  9. I love the fact that you are striking back by being so vulnerable through your writing. You are a wonderful writer. Your passion is clear. Don’t stop, don’t give up. You are a beautiful person, please don’t forget that. Much love and encouragement to you.

  10. Although I don’t have a lot of experience with depression or its treatment, I have friends who suffer from it at times and I’ve also fallen into darkness before. I hope the light returns for you soon, and I really appreciate you sharing this post. It takes courage to show a part of yourself like this, and I admire that.

  11. Thank you. What an amazing person you are. I too suffer from depression. Actually Bipolar disorder. The stigma is so overwhelming. We all need to ban together to advocate for one another. Thank you for opening yourself up to share something very personal.

    1. Thanks Michele. It’s good to hear from someone else who understands the pain and difficulty of writing such a post and just generally dealing with mental illness. You’re right. We can be the ones to help break down the stigma. It gets so exhausting sometimes though, particularly when you’re not having a good day. I hope you’re winning the battle with bipolar and wish you well for the days when it’s tough. Thanks so much for commenting. You’re so brave to open up here too.

  12. Hi Lisa. Just wanted to send a hug because after reading this post 3 times I’m finding words inadequate to explain the effect your post had had.

    1. When you’re in my position just knowing someone acknowledges you and sends that hug your way, often does more than a long collection of words. I don’t know what to say about it most of the time either. Thank you. Your comment means more to me than you possibly think. x

    1. I wanted to get the balance right and show that while the lies are negative, there’s still the fighting, more positive me inside. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

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