Advice For People Who Love Someone Who Is Suffering From Depression

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It is one of most difficult experiences to go through seeing someone you love in pain. I have experienced seeing two people I love suffering from depression. Because neither of these people would like the fact they suffered from depression being known, for this reason I will not be using their names in this piece.

 

The thing you feel most is helpless. You want to do something to make them be happy and yet you know you can’t. Depression is a very difficult journey and watching from the outside, the best thing you can do is listen and understand how they feel from what they are telling you. The worse thing you can do is be judgmental and try to make out you understand how the person feels more than they do themselves.

 

Depression is a deep sadness but it is more than that. It includes insecurity and a sense of numbness. There is a lack of interest in the events going on in their life and a feeling often of “Why be productive because it doesn’t matter?” because a person already feels no matter what they do they aren’t worthwhile and their life and everything they do is meaningless. And instead of living, people who are depressed often feel they are surviving.

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There is too much of the idea that people who are depressed can “just snap out of it” or that they are “attention-seeking”. Depression in people is something that is a natural feeling and not something that someone can stop feeling like turning on and off a tap. Sometimes it’s caused by an event or events, sometimes not and sometimes a combination of the two. One of the people I knew suffered from depression all their lives, the other for a period of time. It was a daily severe sadness in both cases which affected their daily lives and made daily life a struggle. The person who struggled for years kept their depression back and was able for many years to function every day without people knowing that they felt depressed but then they had a bout of depression where they couldn’t get out of bed and where they were nervous going out in public in case they ran into people they knew. This person was actually a very outgoing person but in their worse bout of depression meeting those they knew and having to engage in conversation was difficult. It was partly because of their inner pain and partly because they were scared that the person talking to them would know they were depressed and know they had been in a psychiatric hospital. The other person had a bad bout of depression where they couldn’t function the way they usually did for the time they were depressed.

 

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Sometimes people who are depressed can get very anxious. They desperately want to be not depressed and sometimes can rush into things. The person who I knew who went into a psychiatric hospital would go in and would want to leave, go back in and want to leave again. They were looking for a quick fix and eventually they realised that wasn’t going to happen. Their diet went downhill as they began eating much junk and greasy food and they weren’t exercising enough. In the earlier stages of their depression they were incredibly healthy-living. The other person was phoning helplines, went to a counselling session and went to a psychiatric hospital but didn’t admit themself in the end. All of these things are not in themselves bad ways to help with a person’s depression but this person was hoping they would get a quick fix from these situations and things don’t quite work like that. It’s more gradual. And when the quick fix doesn’t come a person hoping for one can feel worse in themselves.

 

Depression makes people feel very nervous and unsure of themselves. Many people who are depressed have a lot of talents and gifts to offer the world and when many depressed people allow themselves to shine the world benefits but many people who are depressed often don’t allow themselves to. It can be a lot of pressure trying to cope with their depression and the added pressure of putting forward their talents can be sometimes too much especially in a world where not everyone is understanding of depression or compassionate enough to care. We live in a fast-paced world where profit is major and if someone needed time off work for their depression not every employer is understanding. While a lot of employers might not be alright with someone taking time off for any reason, there is even more of a problem for people who are depressed because many employers don’t see depression as a valid reason for time off as opposed to a physical illness. In addition many depressed people often don’t want to admit they are depressed to their employers with the stigma which often still surrounds mental illness.

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The two people I know/knew both didn’t want people to know they were depressed because of the stigma surrounding mental illness in society. They both felt that people would think they were “mad” or “dangerous”. And at one stage someone they knew in their presence called the psychiatric hospital “the madhouse” knowing too that one of them was depressed and had attended the psychiatric hospital in the past. They went back on it but it showed what they were thinking. And it is that kind of attitude which prevents many people from seeking help when they suffer from depression. They worry that people they know years will see them differently and feel very ashamed of being depressed. The ignorance/prejudice of others only serves to heighten that sense of shame.

 

While there is still a lot of prejudice in society, things have become better. There is much more open discussion about depression and many more people speaking about their experiences including both high-profile people and people not in high-profile positions. Their bravery in telling their stories despite the prejudice in society can not be underestimated. The two people I know/knew were helped from the visibility of people suffering from depression because it made them feel they weren’t alone. A lot of people who are depressed feel they are the only ones going through this and therefore think there is “something wrong” with them and seeing other people being so open is immensely helpful in raising their confidence in themselves that it’s a completely normal way of feeling.

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So if someone in your life is depressed the best you can do is show them that you love them and you are there for them. In the same way that you being not depressed is just an aspect of you, someone being depressed is just an aspect of them. Never get into that evil way of thinking that you not being depressed makes you better than them. Some people simply are and some people simply aren’t. I also firmly believe that anyone can become depressed at any stage in their life and the idea that some people are immune is ridiculous. To be honest we live in an often cruel world that to be depressed is a natural reaction to it. Be kind, be understanding and listen. You can’t get them out of the way they are feeling, that’s down to them and it’s a gradual, slow process. Sometimes peoples’ way of feeling does change and sometimes their way of feeling doesn’t but they may or may not become better able to cope with their depression and often people who are supported by those they love have a better chance of learning to cope better because they know they aren’t alone. But we need whatever the situation to just be there and be supportive. Don’t treat the person differently to how you would if they hadn’t depression. They are still the same person and you should never put them in the category of “the depressed one” and forget all the other qualities that make them who they are. Don’t treat them like a burden. They aren’t, just going through some stuff and if you love them you’ll be there for them. Don’t be ashamed of them. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. In short, be respectful.

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Question of the Day 9-28-2018

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If you could switch lives with anybody, who would you choose?

 

I would swap lives with either my Mum or my Sister because I love, admire and respect them both to bits. I think it’d be interesting to see how they see various different things that we all experience together. And I know either way I’d be swapping lives with a good person so they’d live my life well and I’d live their life well either way. Win-win! 🙂

 

For Question of the Day:

https://athling2001.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/question-of-the-day-9-28-2018/

Pansexuality & … Dating

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You may remember if you have been following my blog for a while that I started a series called Pansexuality & … Well this is the second part! 🙂 I plan on it being a 10-part series. This part is all about Pansexuality & Dating as the title suggests so let’s get to it …

 

As you can imagine dating can be a little more daunting for someone who is pan (or in the middle of the sexuality spectrum in general) and there is weirdly both pros and cons to that. It often comes from prejudice. Prejudices (and myths) like to mention a few old chestnuts:

  • Pansexual people are “sluts” or promiscuous.
  • Pansexual people can’t be faithful, be monogamous or can’t fall in love or be in a committed relationship/marriage.
  • Pansexual people are “on the fence”, “going through a phase” and will soon settle for a binary sexuality.
  • Pansexual people can give you a sexual disease due to their “sexual appetite”.
  • Pansexuality isn’t normal and a pansexual is weird.

 

Minus pansexuality is abnormal, to deny all of the above for all pansexuals would be very wrong. But the same is true of anybody of any sexuality. People are individual and their sexuality is absolutely no indication of what their ideas about any of the above will be. So that’s a lot of what’s behind many peoples’ reasons for not dating a pansexual.

So what do I think of people who won’t date someone because they are pansexual?

I find that a complicated question to answer. Mainly because there is usually two responses by many people to that question. On one side you get the personal taste argument and on the other you get the everyone who won’t is prejudiced. I’m kind of in the middle (some things never change! :-)). I think it’s personal taste when there is no prejudice reason behind it. If it’s a natural feeling coming from a natural place I find absolutely nothing wrong with that. But to be honest I don’t think of these people as fully the sexuality they often say they are. I put half in front of whatever sexuality they use because I think that if for example a guy says he’s heterosexual and yet he leaves out meeting a woman from a certain group or certain of groups of women it’s like saying you love a big bar of chocolate and you only like a few squares. And that goes for any sexuality including my own in my eyes before anyone thinks I’m getting at straight people. So I find people who wouldn’t think they should put half in front of their sexuality and people with other prejudiced reasoning bigots. So as I said I’m in the middle. I don’t think the feeling is actually wrong but the reasoning often is and the level of respect towards another human being often is. Sometimes the feeling I get is that many of them think they are superior if I’m being honest and that may not always be the intention of the other person. I accept that but when half or something similar is not used it puts me personally on edge that women like me wouldn’t really count for them to be whatever sexuality. So it feels to me like I’m being dismissed as a woman. So that’s often the psychology behind why someone would feel someone was prejudiced in those circumstances. And everything I’ve put in this section goes for every situation including if a pansexual (or anyone in the middle) wouldn’t date a gay or straight person.

 

I sometimes feel quite nervous about entering the dating pool too often as a little pan. These kinds of attitudes are things which gay or straight people might encounter every now and again if even that. But it’s something a pansexual or anyone in the middle would encounter far more regularly. There is good people and people who aren’t half whatever out there but there’s a lot who aren’t. Now with a bigot I’d rather just get out of there as fast as possible because they ain’t worth my time sunshine but I would like to communicate with people who aren’t coming from a prejudiced view/s and are simply halvers (I say that affectionately) because there’s often terrible communication in these situations and neither person has set out to hurt each other and unintentionally they do as things spiral out of control because they don’t communicate. But someone does need to inform you they are a halver or in whatever words they want to use to express that because I personally wouldn’t ask someone out that because I wouldn’t know how they’d react. It’s a dangerous question to ask in other words and different people would react to it in very different ways. In other words I could be friends with someone who is a halver but I need to know they respect me enough to know that I would count for them to be full in their sexuality.

 

This section is not about halvers and focuses on the bigoted ones. The upside of being pan in dating or being in many minority groups in general is that you are more likely not to end up with a narrow-minded bigot. You might have more awkward moments along the way but you are more likely to end up with an open-minded person and that’s one of the beautiful qualities I’d love to find in my future love of my life whatever their gender or sexual orientation.

 

 

For part one of my series Pansexuality & … Explaining go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/pansexuality-explaining/

Trumpet Blowing Moments

 

Throughout life we all have trumpet blowing moments. Moments where things come together in some way and suddenly make sense. In just 27 years I have had my share of those but hope to live much longer and in consequence experience more of them! 🙂

Going back to when I was a kid, I experienced my first trumpet moment very early. For most of my school life I was bullied and one of the plus points that came from that awful situation was that I gained an empathy with people who were treated wrongly because they are deemed different in some way. After all, the reason I was bullied was that I was an introvert and that was seen as different. I also acquired from that a sense of never changing who you are for anyone. If you do that you’ll constantly be doing that to fit the company you’re in. I seen books which said shyness was wrong, many people who felt I was ‘too quiet’ but I was happy being who I was. And I knew early on that no one should make themselves unhappy to fit a model of society’s ‘perfection’. I would like to think I would have known all of this anyway even I hadn’t been bullied. But been bullied definitely had a huge impact on my feelings in these regards. Bullying is at heart singling somebody out because of a difference in some way and as I’ve grew older I’ve felt that prejudice is the exact same thing did in adult society, done slightly more politely and diplomatically often but with the same starting point: a dislike of difference. That’s why when those with bigoted and negative views turn around and claim they are facing prejudice from people standing up to them, it makes me laugh. It’s like a bully in a playground saying people are getting at them because they tell them they are wrong and no better than anyone else.

 

As I got older I knew someone very close to me who suffered from depression. Though I don’t see depression as a stigma, the person I’m talking about did and it caused them a lot of stress and worry. Because of that I won’t mention who the person is in this discussion. But though I had no prejudices about depression beforehand, I came away with knowing secondhand what depression was like. It’s quite difficult seeing someone you love to bits suffering so much and knowing you can’t do anything to ease their pain. After all depression doesn’t work like that. There isn’t a magic cure. But it was nothing compared to what this person went through. And what I realised from that time was that even though we don’t all have depression in our lives every single one of us experience moments of deep sadness where we’re close to being depressed. So it’s really hypocritical when people judge others for human responses to a world none of us completely understands.

 

I always wrote from very early in my life. But a trumpet moment was five years ago when I threw myself almost completely into writing over any other profession. Things weren’t working out too well in other professions. The employment market wasn’t great and still isn’t so I said what the hell? I might as well do what I like doing instead of worrying about the future. Besides without meaning to sound cocky, I knew I wasn’t too bad at it. And I wasn’t much good at anything else so … and then the future I was worried about opened up from there on it’s own. Things happened in writing like they didn’t in other professions. I got published and then published some more. And I’m still on that journey. And I suppose the realisation of that is that things happened because I cared about what I was doing and people could see that. With everything else they must have seen it wasn’t authentic.

 

The final two realisations came in the last few years. I realised that I was pansexual and an atheist. During your twenties, you kind of find that you are searching to find out more about yourself and as you find more and more pieces of truth about yourself you become even happier and more relaxed in yourself. I thought I was straight and catholic. I was brought up catholic and had attended catholic schools growing up. Now I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with being straight or catholic but neither of them were me and there was clearly an unhappiness there in me that I wasn’t aware of because when I realised I was pansexual and an atheist I felt happier and freer. I suppose it goes back to authentic again, it felt real and from that comes inner peace and happiness. I remember soon after I realised I was pansexual I briefly worried about prejudice I’d face until my wonderful sister reminded me that I’d faced and came through worse. By the time I realised I was an atheist after that, I didn’t worry about prejudice I’d face about that because yes, I had come through much worse and I would continue to survive over and over. And knowing you’ll survive, that’s a trumpet moment in and of itself.

 

The idea for this blog post came from Kathryn who runs the blog Let’s Talk Depression. You can read Kathryn’s brilliant blog post here entitled Trumpet Blowing Moments – Speak The Truth:

https://letstalkdepress.com/2017/12/08/trumpet-blowing-moments-speak-the-truth/

 

 

 

My Article Appears On The Bi+ Ireland Website!

 

 

My article recently was on the Bi+ Ireland website for their ‘We Exist’ Series. I was incredibly honoured to be a part of it. When I realised I was pansexual after a while I did realise that I didn’t know or know of somebody Irish who was pansexual or least openly so. I felt a little alone at that thought actually so this project and all the work Bi+ Ireland do is absolutely great. They make people feel less alone. And I was very happy to share my story for the series and hopefully it will make other pansexual people in Ireland who read it feel less alone and of course other pansexual people everywhere.

Check out my story at:

http://www.biireland.com/stories-of-bi-people-in-ireland/we-exist-lisa-reynolds

 

And check out the rest of series so far at:

http://www.biireland.com/stories-of-bi-people-in-ireland

Pansexuality & … Explaining

 

I’m going to write a few posts over time on different aspects when you are pansexual in a little series that I have very unimaginatively called Pansexuality & … This is the first of the series dealing with explaining.

 

Ok, so it’s not like everyone is going to instantly ask you your sexuality. That would be rather rude. Some might but they are a whole other story altogether. But when you get to know people it comes up in very casual ways like who are you into so they can set you up with someone and the like. I probably have been guilty of partially shutting myself off from getting into meaningful relationships either romantic or friendship because I fear the awkwardness which would follow saying I was pansexual. There is many people of course who wouldn’t care but you can’t always tell who they are. Not everyone at this stage knows what pansexual even means so you feel like you are opening yourself up to possible ignorant questions or possible horror on the face of someone who liked you before. Obviously that’s a problem they have but it can hurt nonetheless. That’s why I feel more comfortable with people who are pansexual or somewhere in the middle with their sexuality because I know they’d understand me. In saying that I don’t want to shut people out who aren’t in the middle because there is lovely people too who aren’t. It’s just a very nerve-wrecking thing often to open up to people who you aren’t sure will get you. And then if you defend yourself you’re deemed too sensitive. Which you’re not.

 

And it can be difficult because when you are going for anything it’s an extra thing to worry about. You want to get to know people but you feel like in some way when they know they’ll always see you as “different” or “something other”. Crazy I know but it is often true. The first thing that would be in so many peoples’ heads when they’d see me would be “She’s the pansexual girl.” and I am very happy and content in my sexuality but there’s more to me than it. It becomes something to comment on and I never think of anyone’s sexuality as something to comment on. It’s just part of them. So that makes you uneasy as well. I don’t think sometimes people put themselves in other peoples’ shoes. It’s uncomfortable when people comment on your sexuality and not everyone else’s. Take for instance if I commented on Kate (fictional obviously) being “the straight girl” and never on anyone else’s sexuality, Kate would get pissed off and she’d be right. And I’m no different. And part of the fear is not wanting to get into conflict with someone while they play the “I meant no harm” card.

 

Communications have an added fear for many of us who are pansexual. I’m an introvert anyway so it’s double the added fear! 🙂 Just be kind to each other, treat each other the same, we all just want to get on in life and be happy. Don’t do anything on people of a particular sexuality or sexualities that you wouldn’t do on another or others. I know most people don’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable so make a real effort not to. Then everyone will be a lot happier in their day-to-day communications.

Pansexuality & Me

In October 2015, I realised that I was pansexual. Pansexual, for anyone not aware of the term’s meaning, is been attracted to men, women and non-binary people. It took me a while to work out that I was and a lot of the reason for that was because I had this belief that at 25 I should have known by now. That’s an important thing I want to say here: you are never too old to figure out your sexuality. It doesn’t mean you are “immature” or “slow to figure things out”. While I do believe that we are all born with our sexualities I don’t think, no matter what someone’s sexuality is, that there is a fixed age to find out. I was attracted only to guys growing up so I thought I was straight. I hadn’t knew or knew of anyone who was non-binary growing up so it wasn’t a surprise when I was attracted to people who were but I did know a lot of women so that was confusing. You hear people saying from an early age they kind of knew and my experience doesn’t follow that traditional path. So I was confused by feeling feelings for women that I had never felt before but then I realised that what it comes down to is that I hadn’t been aware of a woman who I felt like that for before. When you do feel strong feelings for someone you just know.

I can imagine that if someone had a “preferred sexuality” (which I don’t think anyone should have) that it would be a scary experience. But I didn’t really care. I just was so confused that I just wanted to know. Unless you have been through an experience where you have been trying to figure out part of your identity it’s hard to explain. You find yourself walking around in a blurred haze and your brain very often is trying to piece things together. You are actually worried someone will ask you what sexuality you are and you’ll have to admit you aren’t sure. Which goes back to the age thing again. I was scared I’d sound “thick” by admitting that because I thought people would think I should know. This sounds mad in hindsight because who is going to actually ask you your sexuality out in the middle of a casual conversation? Not too many would.

Again to really understand this it’s something you’d have to experience but when I realised a sense of ease came over my shoulders. It was like there had been a stress on me that I hadn’t even realised was there. It was a very liberating feeling, like a new chapter, like life was there and to be lived. My sister was great in listening to me rabbiting on about the process of finding out and then when I did. We don’t really have prejudices. She respects me as pansexual and I respect her as straight. I wouldn’t say I came out to my sister about been pansexual. It was a very casual conversation and that’s a really nice reflection of the times. Not everyone has that experience even nowadays though which is very sad. I never told my mum though. Mainly because pansexuality is not very much in mainstream media and my mum gets nervous of things which are unfamiliar shall we say. I don’t think she’d care if I was gay or bisexual but it would still be a lie so I leave it as straight because it’s better to tell one lie than two. Because if pansexuality ever does go more mainstream it would be less confusing to go from straight to pansexual then straight to bisexual to pansexual if that makes sense.

A lot of people don’t know what it means but most people when they do are respectful. The fact that it is pushed under the carpet a lot I hope doesn’t feed a prejudice towards pansexuality. There’s also a lot of misconceptions which surround pansexuality. I don’t fit into a lot of the stereotypes. For example I don’t have a preference for what gender I go for. My preference is someone’s personality. That doesn’t mean I’m “gender-blind”. I don’t really like that term to be honest because when I like or love someone I like everything about them and that includes their gender. I don’t think most people who use that term mean it in a bad way but it can come over as totally dismissing someone’s gender. Another misconception is that someone who is pansexual has a high sex drive. Someone who is pansexual for example could be asexual too. I’m not exactly asexual but I’m somewhere in the middle. What is important though to remember is that there is people who are pansexual who have a gender they have a preference for and there is pansexual people who have a high sex drive. And all of that is completely fine too. What isn’t fine is putting people into boxes based on their sexual orientation. It’s not based on someone’s sexuality. It’s based on who that person is as an individual. Another misconception is that someone who is pansexual couldn’t be in a long-term relationship or be monogamous. I happen to be monogamous and I happen to be an old romantic who would love to settle down with the love of my life someday. But obviously there is people in every sexuality who would prefer to be free. I don’t believe in boxes been put on people. For example a person with a high drive who is pansexual doesn’t have a high sex drive because they are pansexual and someone like me in the middle or someone who is asexual shouldn’t have to face misconceptions about who we are because they are pansexual. But also it’s the ones who put the boxes on people who are the problem. Not the people who happen to fit into any of the stereotypes. I hear people, not just in regards of pansexuality but in lots of situations, blaming the latter. Things like “it’s because of you people think this” or “you are confirming the stereotype”. It’s hypocritical. The fight is supposed to be for people to be able to be who they are and if a person happens to fit a stereotype and that’s who they are we should be supporting that, not knocking them for it.

It feels like pansexuality is on the bottom rung of the ladder because it still isn’t widely known about in the media. I can understand how a person wouldn’t know about it. I think some people think it doesn’t exist or that we’re following a “trend” (like it’s a new high street handbag which personally I think is a weird way to think about feelings) or that we’re confused. I can say my feelings feel incredibly real, that sexuality isn’t a trend, it exists very obviously because peoples’ feelings match what it describes and ironically that it’s the first time that I haven’t been confused.

So what does it feel like to be pansexual? It feels like to be human.

Oh and I’m not attracted to frying pans. If you think that it says more about you mate than me. Just saying.