Okay, you know how Cuddlebuggery doesn’t often do serious talks here. We don’t believe in serious. Makes us feels all icky inside like the worst ever constipation. Like bugs are crawling all over us. Imagine bugs crawling all over you. Go ahead. Feel disgusting and wrong now? Are you cursing me to hell and back and then to hell again for making you feel the sensation of bugs crawling all over you? Good. Job done. This is the kind of place we are.
But every now and again, seriousness is necessary. So I wanted to explain my recent absence, explain my probable future absence, and discuss mental health for a minute.
I retweeted yesterday an oft held belief that the funniest people you know are usually very depressed people. No, that wasn’t a cry for help, that was me laughing at reality. I’ve spoken a fair bit on my twitter about depression and I know that I’m not alone. A lot of people in our community do. Books are a great escape and distraction when you’re living under the iron blanket of depression. But sometimes it’s a long, lasting, very serious depression. After a long and personal battle, I was diagnosed as someone who suffers Bipolar Hypomania by a psychiatrist and have begun taking medication. To be a functioning human being, I will probably need to be on some sort of mood stabiliser for the rest of my life.
I’m not saying this to get attention. The National Give Kat a Hug Day is just a joke. You are in no way required to hug me. But it would be nice, you know. I’m never going to turn down a free hug. What I want to do is bring awareness to this issue, that I believe exists in our book blogging community. I want to explain that I haven’t abandoned you guys, nor am I being lazy or uncaring since I haven’t been around much. But life has been, to put it bluntly, almost unbearable for a while now. I’m still here with Cuddlebuggery. I’m still working in the background, helping promote authors and occasionally posting. But if you don’t see me around it’s because I’m in the process of putting everything back together.
The medication I’m on now is, luckily, already quite efficient and making a difference in my life. This story has, believe it or not, a happy ending. Not every one does. I was lucky enough to have people in my life to support me, who understood what I was going through, who believed what I suffered from was real and painful, and who encouraged me to get help. If you know someone who suffers from depression, I can’t say enough how important all this is when it comes to saving lives.
One of those people has been Steph, who has been with me unfailingly helping, loving and caring for me since almost the start of our friendship. I love you so much, Steph.
Some quick tips:
-Don’t try to cheer them up. They don’t need to be cheered up.
-Don’t try to “fix them”. Nothing feels worse than having someone troubleshoot your life.
-Don’t push them to do things they’re not comfortable with.
-Don’t tell them they should just get over it/themselves.
Your natural response will be to make them feel better. You’re an empathetic human being who doesn’t want to see people in pain. But stop for a moment and recognise that as YOUR issue. And that by trying to cheer them up, you’re really trying to make yourself feel better about your own discomfort.
Things you can do:
-Be available to talk when they want to.
-Remind them that what they’re going through is not them failing, but depression that is affecting them.
-Sometimes just being with another person in the same room is helpful. You don’t always have to talk or chat.
-Resent the disease, not the person.
-Ask them what THEY need.
-Encourage them to see someone to talk it out. A lot of people are afraid of the stigma. To be honest, it’s not fun. But gentle encouragements from friends and family at least plant the idea. If it’s someone close to you, and you can afford it, maybe even offer to pay for the first session. Or help them find information about government subsidies. If you’re living in Australia, then every citizen is entitled to five free sessions every calendar year. Ten if your doctors gives you a referral. This helps a lot. And seeing a psychiatrist is government subsidised as well.
-Listen to them. What are they telling you they need?
As always, if you’re suffering from depression and having thoughts of self harm, here is a list of international helplines. Find your region and PLEASE talk to someone.
Having an honest, supportive discussion about mental health in our community is important to ensuring our members are safe and getting the help they need.
This wasn’t a funny post, I know, but I feel very close to a lot of you, and I wanted to share with you this small portion of what’s going on in my life and where I’m at. I love you guys and this community so much. I’m hoping that with time, medication and a little break, I can get better soon and be back to terrorising you all with my inappropriateness and crudity.
My point of this post was that I hoped, if I came out and spoke about this, I could not only start a vital dialogue – but I could provide a source of support for those who need someone to reach out to.
If you suffer from depression or mental illness, I am here. You can reach out to me or your blogger friends for a hug and some love and understanding when you need it.
And the good news is that I’m still here. Send me a tweet, email me, whatever. And I’m still going to BEA. AND SO IS MEG! So the three of us will be there together to give you the full Cuddlebuggery experience!
Lots of love,