Friday, July 1, 2022

I saw this image posted online and it really made me think about that grey area of mental health that is peoples' capacity during depressed periods:



I've experienced such periods before and so have some insight, including into very time-limited (hours-long), but intense moments of feeling essentially catatonic, as well as operating at a low, self-deprecating mood for months on end. However, I haven't experienced the kind of prolonged catatonic states that people close to me have, or the level of sustained, dazed numbness that can replace them for those who simply cannot afford to collapse (often parents of young children).

I know that preaching 'rational' responses to someone whose rational mind feels as if it's been all but hijacked in that moment is often pointless, and advice such as that below can often come up against what feels like an unassailable brick wall.

Having said that, there are often moments, even if just glimmers, where a person regains a greater sense of autonomy. Perhaps my lack of personal experience with the more prolonged experiences is leaving me unduly optimistic, but I believe that not following through on these basic actions (especially the last one, isolating yourself from companionship, touch and alternative perspectives is crippling in these situations) can worsen an already bad situation - and that even people deep in depression can sometimes have moments when that message can break through. The argument is even stronger for those who experience briefer or less intensive depressive episodes.

The flipside, of course, is that telling someone they're not giving themselves a fighting chance stands as good a chance, if not more, of demoralising them further once it's been filtered through the cesspit that is a depressed mind ("so now I'm not a fighter, oh God I'm useless..." - been there). I'd prefer to focus on the benefits of taking such steps rather than the resulting self-perception of not.

What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments below.



Aidan Phillips is Trauma-informed Communities Project Manager at WAVE Trust.