Mull this over.

How do you actually start a conversation about this stuff?

I know that I find it pretty simple these days, but I’m the first to admit I found it strange and awkward for quite a while. As someone who has always considered themselves well informed (and modest), what struck me the most was how little I knew about what it means to be depressed or anxious.

The preconceptions I had of these illnesses were so grand and elaborate. If I was anxious, I would be in the fetal position, shaking with fear for my life beneath my doona. If I was depressed, I would be a sobbing wreak 24/7, dampening the pages of ‘The Works of Sylvia Plath.’ All of it was very dramaqueen-esque.

These ideas are far too narrow – there is an enormous spectrum of feelings you can experience when you are anxious and/or depressed. It varies, of course, depending on the individual. Each instance is different.

Have you fully appreciated that before? I hadn’t. And it took me a time to do so. My symptoms were more demure in comparison, with thoughts along the lines of “how the bloody hell do I explain to someone I can’t go to the movies because I’m afraid to leave my house?” or, “how do I talk to my friends about my upcoming overseas trip, when everything I do feels neutral, and I can’t seem to look forward to anything anymore?” Seriously, how much more jazzy and exciting do the dramatic sequence of warning signs sound!

The point I am trying to stress here is that regardless of the grandeur of the outward symptoms, the turmoil inside can be equal, if not greater.

Opening up about your understanding (or lack there of) about mental illness can not only benefit those around you, but also yourself. Give it a try – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, try the Lindt Dark Chocolate with Roasted Almond – it is really delicious.

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