Oh Dodie, we just want to give you the squishiest hugs, make you a cake and help you feel better – your Depression, Anxiety and Depersonalisation video was a hard watch.
We have so much respect for anyone brave enough to speak publicly about their struggles with mental health. The Youtube community has absolutely nailed it when it comes to ending mental health stigma and pointing sufferers in the right direction – Dodie is the latest star to sit down and tell it like it is.
With her video come some really important lessons, as well as symptoms to be aware of if you or a loved one think you may have a mental health issue. Here’s a handful of them…
1. “I genuinely think I’m going mad, and I don’t think I’m going to see things normally again.”
One way to differentiate between a bout of sadness and full blown depression is a strange, impending sense of doom, and it often originates from nowhere. If you start to feel highly emotional whilst being plagued by fears that you’re never going to feel alright again, it’s best to seek help. Even if the feeling isn’t constant – depression pops in and out as much as it likes, whenever it likes.
2. “If you’ve never dealt with mental illness at all, you’re probably thinking, ‘Dodie, just turn it off. Stop talking about it. Stop obsessing over it. You’re attention seeking. You’re making this up. You’re making yourself believe that you’re ill’. I am so happy you can feel that way, because it means you can’t relate to this.”
Stigma is very real and very damaging in the world of mental illness. It doesn’t help that the symptoms are so unusual, invisible and hard to describe. If someone chooses to divulge their mental illness symptoms to you, please don’t EVER tell them to “just snap out of it”. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the effects mental illness can have on a person, and to undermine them is just not fair.
3. “As soon as I realised I’d forgotten how to talk to my housemate, I decided I should register with a doctor.”
No matter how scary it seems, a doctor’s help is crucial in managing and recovering from a mental health disorder. Telling a medical professional what’s happening does not necessarily mean you’ll be prescribed medication – though if you are, that’s 100% fine. Everyone is different, and a doctor needs to work out the best approach for you. Don’t put that appointment off.
4. “I walked home in this weird bright dream world feeling so strange.”
A feeling of disconnection from the world and from yourself is a really common symptom – the feeling of being spaced out and panicky, perhaps even some temporary memory loss, are symptoms that something may not be quite right. Dodie knows that she has a Depersonalisation order in this case, but the same feelings can also be a depression or anxiety symptom.
5. “I’m going to get myself some nice therapy and sort this out.”
Therapy is important. Unfortunately, the UK has more of a stigma around the idea of seeing a therapist or counsellor than, say, the US. But be strong and ask your doctor to refer you to someone if it becomes clear that your mental health issue is having an effect on your life.
The best approach to improving your mental health is a mixture of therapy, medical help and meditation – seeing a doctor and a counsellor is by no means overkill.
6. “I can still sing. I am alive on this planet, even though I don’t feel like I am. I still find this funny. I can still taste food. I can still write jokes. I can write songs and hang out with friends and do the things that make me happy.”
One of the scariest things to come from talking openly about depression is not knowing how people will react. Sometimes, even those we love and who want to help just don’t know what to do to ease your pain. It can make things a little odd sometimes, and even though it’s all out of love, it’s quite hard for everyone to deal with. But that shouldn’t deter you from being honest about your feelings.
Instead, remind them that you are the same person you were before you told them about your mental illness. Do what makes you happy as much as you can – you don’t have to become your illness to prove there is something wrong. You just have to learn to manage it.
7. “Your problems are not insignificant.”
Depression has this terrible habit of making you feel unworthy. Like a burden to those around you. Like your suffering isn’t important enough to receive help. Do not listen – you are absolutely worthy and deserving of love, patience and help. Dodie is 100% right on this – your problems are NOT insignificant.
Are you worried about your own, or a loved one’s, mental illness? These organisations can help: