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Why do some people not believe depression is a real illness?

Updated on May 9, 2013

As someone who has battled on and off with depression for about twenty years now, I am increasingly frustrated by the amount of people who seem to doubt depression is a real illness. I frequently encounter people who seem to be of the opinion that 'no-one suffered from depression in the old days, so why is it suddenly a real illness? ' Much of the time this kind of attitude comes from the older generations, i.e. the 65 plus age group, but there also appears to be quite a major problem with convincing non-sufferers in the 30-65 age group.

I find it very annoying to overhear conversations where the topic ofdepression is being discussed, usually by people who don't know I am a victim of depression myself. These conversations largely seem to consist of opinions that include, 'there is no such thing as depression, those people just don't want to work ' or 'if he/she is so depressed how come I see them laughing and socialising '.

To hear these kinds of comments leaves me seething with frustration, and I have been known to chip in and point out that depression is very real, and even someone who appears to be laughing and smiling a lot can be suffering from depression, or even anxiety and depression (as I do). Sometimes these people have the good grace to be embarrassed that their opinions (based on no medical knowledge), have been overheard by an actual depression sufferer, but other times it leads to a whole debate on the subject of whether it is real or not, often resulting in my going home in tears, or at least ending up in floods of tears when I get home.

I have even had to debate the issue of my own depression with an actual Doctor / GP who was covering for my normal Doctor whilst he was away. Obviously my normal Doctor knows my case in depth, and the circumstances that have lead to where I am with the condition now, (so much so he said I should write a book on all I had been through in my life), but the Doctor I had to see whilst he was away was incredibly reluctant to renew my long term medical certificate, clearly failing to comprehend what I was going through. I tried to explain how I feel nauseous, stressed and panicky if I go into the town here, and how I can't handle the volume of people and simply want to get what needs to be done finished, and get out of there as soon as possible. His response was "well I feel like that in town myself". I could have screamed, "this is not just a case of I don't like town and want to go home, it is far more than that", but he was just dismissive of my description, clearly thinking I was just another government sponger, looking for social security benefits for staying at home. I tried to point out my memory is so bad I forget the names (and even faces) of people I have been introduced to minutes earlier, but he said it was not surprising because by staying home I wasn't exercising my brain so it was getting lazy. Hell, if he knew how much I use my brain growing vegetables and writing on the Internet he could not say it doesn't get exercised (sadly although this is stuff I can relax and enjoy because it is low pressure and keeps me in an environment I am comfortable in, it doesn't pay the bills). Eventually, and under sufferance, he signed me off work for a further month so that I could see my normal Doctor upon his return, but what I didn't notice was he ticked the box on the medical certificate stating I would benefit from an appointment with a 'Return to Work Liaison Officer'. This caused me a later problem that my own Doctor had to sort out upon his return by issuing me with a backdated medical certificate so I could receive my health benefits.

In my entire life I had never claimed any benefits until my first Husband died suddenly from Bowel Cancer two weeks after he was diagnosed back in 2001. At that point I took about a month of incapacity benefit before going on to job seekers allowance for a further few weeks. I then took a very low paid live in position and came off benefits (in spite of the fact I was only taking home £50 per week).

Throughout my life I had paid into the Social Security system by working in various jobs, and this never changed on any long term basis until I had a particularly bad onset of anxiety and depression back in 2008. Call it what you want, a 'straw that broke the camel's back ' or whatever you prefer, but this one was the one that I just couldn't face going back to work from. I had just left one job at the time and was due to begin a new position, but as the start date approached I began to get more and more panicky, even physically sick at the prospect (very unusual for me based on previous job changes). I described all my symptoms to a medically knowledgeable friend of ours who works in the local hospital, and he quickly pointed out I was clearly exhibiting standard signs of depression. I then went away and did my research and realised he was right, and I was actually exhibiting far more symptoms of depression than I realised previously e.g. memory loss, a need for excessive sleep, mood swings, low libido, panic attacks, being overly emotional often at inappropriate times etc. I have written on such symptoms in more depth if you click here.

One of the worst symptoms I currently experience is the need for excessive amounts of sleep. This is a well known symptom of depression, yet I still receive criticism and sarcastic comments from acquaintances who may hear that I didn't get out of bed until 15.00 - 16.00pm in the afternoon, (maybe via my Husband in conversation, or if they have called me on the phone and I have clearly just been awoken by the phone call). They look at me like I am just a lazy 'good for nothing ' who lets my Husband go out to work, claims benefits and then sleeps in bed all day. What they don't appreciate is that firstly the quality of sleep a depressed individual gets is usually awful, frequently filled with disturbing dreams or nightmares, and that secondly, if the depressed person wakes up for any reason in the night, it might take them several hours to get back to sleep because they can't stop thinking , and I mean thinking over and over things they are anxious about, problems they have had in their lives or are currently having etc. The result of this is that they might sleep from say 23.00pm until 03.00am, then wake up until 06.00am, before finally getting back to sleep (poor quality sleep let's not forget), until maybe 14.00pm in the afternoon. Total sleep achieved, (of low quality), about 12 hours, still leaving the depression sufferer exhausted. Most nights I need to have at least twelve hours actual sleep, and because I am often up very late (well into the early hours), I am not usually getting out of bed until mid to late afternoon, (at least in the winter). During the summer months I am better because I spend time outside gardening which I find very therapeutic and relaxing. In the winter I just want to hibernate, escape from the depression and wake up when the sun is shining again.

I suppose what actually prompted me to write this article tonight was a simple conversation in a local bar the other night. It was the first time I had met this man, but he was an old acquaintance of my Husband's so I chatted to him with relative ease. The usual question came up from him "and what do you do for a living? ". I briefly explained that I stay at home now mainly due to some health problems. This prompted him to ask "what kind of health problems?" I suppose I could have answered "none of your business" or "it's personal", but not me, being a very open person I gritted my teeth and tried to very briefly give him the 5 minute version of the condition I have and how it manifests itself in my case. I wish I hadn't tried, I just got the usual "well I feel like that about going into town too" response. I sighed and then tried to explain why what I go through is not the same as just 'not liking going into town', and how I have a load of emotional baggage behind me that obviously lead to my suffering from anxiety and depression. I saw the disbelief on his face, and then a brief interruption took place from his friend on a different subject, before this chap quickly made excuses about how he was going home now, clearly to avoid the conversation going further on a subject he had already formed an incorrect opinion on.

I have begun to realise that somewhere along the way I have put myself on the defensive, feeling a need to prove my depression is genuine, that there are good reasons for it, and why the condition is very real. I know there are many tens of thousands of people out there suffering from either depression, anxiety, or both in combination, and I am sure a huge percentage have also been frustrated by the members of society who seem to think it is simply an excuse used by people to avoid work, or to justify sleeping for so many hours as opposed to them simply 'being lazy '.

Without looking for sympathy at all here, I would just like to share here some of what has happened in my life that without doubt built up to the anxiety and depression problems I experience today, and why my own doctor said I should write a book:

1) I had a Father who was 56 when I was born. He suffered from serious health problems that meant he was bad tempered, sicklyand out of touch with the realities of the ages both my Sister and I were. He was in and out of hospital constantly, playing on his illness in order to avoid doing anything in the home. Arguments were a daily event in our household and our Mother was frequently in tears and completely stressed as a result. I used to listen to the arguments all the time and even wrote down notes to show my Mum what had been said in any rows that took place between my Grandmother (who lived with us) and my Father when my Mum was out, (in spite of the fact I was only about 7 or 8 at the time). He died when I was 16, and I was totally relieved.

2) I was a well mannered and polite child, therefore suffered from being a huge target for bullying at school. I was always very underweight which didn't help, and whilst I got on well with my teachers I simply failed completely to fit in with my fellow pupils. Essentially I was an outcast and an object of ridicule much of the time. My nails were bitten down to nothing for most of my life, and I have only managed to grow them properly now I am in my forties.

3) When I did leave school I was a very naïve late developer, and at the point I started wearing make-up and socialising I was targeted by a serial adulterer called Steve 'LG' (name slightly disguised due to him still living locally to me), who suddenly paid me the kind of attention I had never received before in my life. As a much older man he probably symbolised some kind of Father figure to me (as I never really felt I had truly had a Father with my own being the way he was when alive). I was then 17 and this man was 35, I soon lost my virginity to him, and this complicated my life to such a degree that I was beaten up a number of times by other girls in our crowd, ultimately deciding to leave my home in Guernsey and move to the UK mainland for a fresh start (not least of which because he had dumped me and allowed me to take all the blame for the affair, breaking my heart terribly in the process).

4) Once on the mainland I was doing well and met a man I fell in love with (even though I had believed I would never love again) called Steve Sandley. He was a driving instructor with his own business called 'Domino Driving School' based in Tonbridge in Kent. He seemed like the cure to my broken heart, but not so. Steve ended up being a man that beat me up on a regular basis, and I was too weak to dump him, too scared of another broken heart. I still have the scar on my chin where he stabbed me in the mouth with a kitchen fork (although luckily the other injuries such as the cracked rib where he kicked me etc have long since healed). This same man got engaged to me, but then arranged to marry his ex-girlfriend behind my back (a fact I found out three weeks before their wedding). He claimed not to want to go through with it, but that he was doing so because of pressure from his parents (whom he still lived with), and who wanted him to marry her because she had his young child (should I add here that his Mother had punched me in the face when she found out he was seeing me, even though this man was 29 years old and living at home as an adult). He went through with the wedding, but carried on seeing me for a further eighteen months, still beating me up in frenzies of jealousy on an ever increasing basis until I finally built up enough strength of my own to dump him, in spite of him crying and begging me to allow him to move in with me the same night.

5) I then went on to meet my future Husband. He was wonderful, but was in the process of splitting with his own wife who he had caught out in an affair with their eldest son's best friend. For this reason (and to avoid complicating the divorce in her favour) he broke off our brief liaison (and as a consequence broke my heart in the process). I went on to eventually meet a fellow bus driver who I ultimately got engaged to and lived with for two years (along with his younger daughter who was 14 at the time). Things did not go too well with this man (John Winder) and he ended up having an affair behind my back with a long lost ex-fiancée of his own (which only came to light when we agreed to split up). He then turned nasty because she wouldn't agree to him and I remaining friends, so he went along with what she wanted and essentially refused to even talk to me any more (even though he had slept with me the night before I moved out of the flat we shared in Bromley in Kent).

6) After then moving into my own place I met up with my future Husband to be again (Dave), the divorce now long gone and his ex-Wife Ann having moved in with their son's best friend. Dave (Pearce) and I got together, I moved in with him and was very happy apart from problems with his sons (now aged approx 17 and 18) the elder of which was arrogant and resentful of me, the youngest being a pathological liar who was always in trouble. Dave and I got married and were mostly happy, but did have some problems with the sons that were considerable and caused some major rows between us. The eldest son Neal was told to move out by his Father due to his constant arrogance and nastiness towards me, the youngest son Andy was locked up for two years for arson, and then ended up living with us when he was released. His lies caused more rows, and for a while our marriage was under serious threat as a result.

7) I found out that I had major fertility problems when we decided to try for a baby, so after an operation to try to remove some of the endometriosis and an ovarian cyst I was suffering with, I was dismayed to come home after a week in hospital after just one visit from Dave (which was as a result of a row over his younger Son's laziness around the house), to be told by Dave he wanted to end our marriage. I was shocked and devastated, the doctors had said I needed looking after for about 6 weeks when I got home, but instead, on day one he was telling me he no longer loved me. It took some talking on my part to convince Dave to give us six months without Andy (the younger Son) living with us to see if it made a difference to the pressure we were under that was causing the rows.

Dave managed to get Andy into a bedsit of his own and our relationship immediately improved. We were much happier for several months until Dave began to suffer what appeared to be abdominal pains, accompanied by all the symptoms of Diverticulitis or Diverticulosis. He went to his Doctor who referred him for a colonoscopy, but when he attended the appointment he found it too painful to go through with (I explain this in more detail on the Bowel Cancer article). Subsequently within weeks the pain one Sunday became so bad I was forced to call an ambulance. The next day I was told it was terminal Bowel Cancer, two weeks later I was holding Dave's hand when he died. His surviving eldest son, ex-Wife and ex-Brother-in-law treated me appallingly after Dave died, confiscating our only car (a white Mercedes taxi that had belonged to my Husband, but that for financial reasons Dave had registered in his ex-Wife's name during a time she worked with us), and stealing a very expensive camcorder I had bought for Dave as a present and then innocently loaned to Neal (the older Son) after Dave died (he then refused to return it, also telling me his Dad had been having an affair behind my back when he died, although whether this is true or not I will never know).

8) Some months later I returned to Guernsey, and to cut a long story short I met up with the first true love of my life (the same man I lost my virginity to and described in number 3 above). I was lonely, vulnerable, and he fed me all the lines and gave me the 'love' I needed right then, persuading me to move to Tenerife with him so he could sing on the bar circuit. To my families horror I agreed, and this too went sour. I found myself engaged to and living with a control freak, and one who obviously expected me to still be the naïve teenager he had first got involved with back in 1987. Little did he expect the far tougher woman I had become, refusing to knuckle down and simply hand over my meagre pension to him each month, or only talk to the people he approved of, not use the Internet without his consent etc. He too turned violent, and not only against me, but also against a rescue poodle dog we had adopted out there that he tried to strangle one night (I re-homed the dog immediately to protect it, but it broke my heart to say goodbye to my furry ally). Steve LG then went on to stab a mutual friend of ours in the abdomen, and all because of a row Steve LG caused by claiming that him and the friend's fiancé were making plans to 'get together' (even though this was a lie). Ultimately Steve LG and I split up too, and he abandoned me in Tenerife from where it took me a number of months to get back to Guernsey due to having so much to sort out before I could possibly leave.

9) Coming back home (£12,500 worse off due to losses I made selling on my apartment) I soon met my current husband Richard, and although we had some considerable financial baggage to sort out when we met, he was good for me and we worked well together. By now I had long since accepted I could not get pregnant, therefore had not used any contraception for many years. You can imagine our surprise when I found out I was pregnant then, the problem being we were in masses of debt and my family (Mum and Stepfather) were not exactly over the moon about potentially being Grandparents at the age they were, (or an Auntie in my Sister's case). Both Richard and I struggled to know what to do, and in the end decided on a pregnancy termination (a mistake I will die regretting, as will he).

I lost a job I loved as an additional result because I then retracted a promotion within the company that I had previously accepted, and they suggested that I should not return to work in my old contracted position, and didn't renew my contract. Since then Richard and I decided to try for another baby that we would keep at whatever cost, this was over four years ago now, and since then my internal problems have got worse, and even the IVF clinic Bourne Hall said IVF would really be a waste of money in my case as my ovarian egg reserve is virtually undetectable based on both FSH and AMH blood tests. A natural pregnancy would be a huge miracle now as my internal reproductive organs are so fused with adhesions that the last surgeon to investigate couldn't even find my ovaries. I feel I threw away my last chance to be a Mother, although fortunately for my Husband he already had two son's from a former relationship.

What more can I say, other than I defy anyone to have lived through all of that and still come out of the other side unaffected? Who is to say how such experiences could affect any one individual, and I doubt even certain so called experts can say with complete confidence that this couldn't affect the brain in such a way as to cause depression? Perhaps the excessive stress does damage to our brains that we cannot even imagine (and that a person who has not experienced this level of stress cannot comprehend). What I can say for sure is that I was always a very hard working individual, often working 60+ hour weeks and 13 out of every 14 days. The fact I cannot manage to go to work now is not due to any laziness or imagined depression on my part. I know what I feel and what I think, how I sleep, what makes me cry etc, and I imagine that most other depression sufferers experience the same frustrations I do at those who doubt what they are experiencing is real.

I now have the local Social Security department pressuring me to either see a return to work liaison officer or to see their Psychiatrist (who has only met me once before), in order to determine if I am fit to go back to any form of work rather than them continuing to pay me a paltry sum each week. How can a Psychiatrist judge me on a one hour appointment? The last time I saw her she tried to say it was a problem with a lack of 'self confidence' on my part, which is rubbish, my self confidence is the least of my worries.

I have even experienced problems within my own family in terms of them understanding this condition, my Mother, Step Father and even my Husband sometimes don't understand it, and the comments like, "Well you will need to get a job eventually you know!" and "I know we are short of cash this month so go and get a job then" are testament to this, and often make me feel completely alone in terms of what I am going through.

For those of you reading this who doubt depression is real, I strongly suggest you open your minds to the fact that it is, and try to read much more on the symptoms and signs of depression.

For those of you like me who genuinely suffer from depression and would love to be well again, know that I can confirm that depression is very real, and that in time I hope many more people will read articles like this and question the fact they ever doubted that it could be.

Update 2013

Obviously I wrote this article some years back now, but I felt it was important to update it to say that my local Social Security Department (benefits department) put so much unreasonable pressure on me to return to work, insisting on my attending job seekers appointments alone in town even when we had explained I could not do this without my husband present due to my phobia of going into town alone (he could not be available at the fixed time they had set and they refused to adjust the times or days to make this possible) that we eventually told them to take me off of benefits because whatever they thought, we knew I was not capable of returning to work or fitting in with the job seekers conditions they were trying to force me into. This means we now struggle financially, but at least the stress they were inflicting on me has been removed and they have no further control over me. Their bullying tactics (Guernsey's Social Security Department) caused me a huge amount more stress that could have been avoided if they had been reasonable and made an effort to at least rearrange my weekly job seekers appointments so that my Husband could fit it in with his working hours and come with me, and they had made the effort to find the kind of jobs I had suggested that might have worked out and caused me minimal stress. At time of writing it must be about two years since I last received a single penny in benefits, so we have to survive a very high cost of living (Guernsey is an expensive island to live on) on one wage.


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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      People like this are hard to deal with Amanda. Sometimes the only thing you can do is remove them from your life because they are making the problem worse. Before resorting to that though I would see if you can get him to read some appropriate books or websites on the subject of depression. If you go to a regular counsellor you could also take him along with you and ask your counsellor to explain to him what depression is and why it is very real (especially in your case). If all that fails I would tell him you can't be with a person who doesn't understand something so important about you, and that if he can't accept it now then there is little hope for a future to the relationship.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Why do people think im petty for "thinking" I have depression. It just makes me depressed even more and it really hurts to feel like a freak.

      I really love this guy but he doesn't understand that I have depression and well long story short he is a main reason to cry myself to sleep. I dont know what to do.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks so much Redderrose, what a fabulous comment to receive, and even better as it came from someone who understands exactly what it is like from their own personal experience. I really don't know what else to say as you have been so very complimentary that it is hard not to simply sit here and blush. What I will say is that I am really pleased you got out of your own unhealthy relationship and survived to tell the tale. If you enjoyed my other article and this one, you might also appreciate my one on Psychopaths and how to tell if your partner is one:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Cindy, I have read the whole of your article called 'Living with a control freak', then gravitated to this one on depression. I am blown away by your courage and strength and found both articles utterly compelling.

      I have just emerged myself from a rollercoaster relationship with what I now realise was a psychopath, and found the first article so helpful: I could absolutely relate. And as to this one, well. I have severe bipolar disorder (with psychosis) myself and have been unable to work for a living for many years.

      I admire you hugely for managing to work so hard for as long as you did (and paid your national insurance contributions), and can TOTALLY understand why you might suffer depression and anxiety after all you have been through. I have myself endured many episodes of this debilitating illness since I was 19 (and I am 50 now), and haha, how could anyone seriously doubt that it is real!

      Choose to be happy? I just want to laugh at the last poster's ignorant comment.

      Pay no attention to idiots like that Cindy. I am sure that it is the reactions and attitudes of those closest to you that hurt more in any case.

      For what it's worth, I am on your team 100% and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for these two articles which have made me know that I am not alone. And your stories also remind me that bad things happen to good people all the time, and therefore perhaps I should not feel as if I am being punished for some unspecified moral failing in myself!

      I think you're wonderful.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      If you believe it is always that easy anonymous then you are either very naïve, a fool or a troll looking for a reaction.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Because you can always choose to be happy.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for your in depth comment of your experience jbing. Whilst I don't agree with everything you have said, there is much of it that I do agree with, so thanks again for making it :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I believe people legitimately become depressed but ulimately choose to stay that way. It's not a germ or a gene or a demon or anything else. Circumstances beyond one's control can lead to depression, but if that person chooses not to change their circumstances or find new ways of dealing with their current circumstances by creatively addressing whatever emotional, spiritual, intellectual (etc) needs that are being neglected (thereby causing depression) then they will remain depressed. Depression is NOT a disease or a is our body/mind's way of telling us something is critically wrong in our lives. It takes great self awareness to be able to say 'x needs to change' in one 's life and then to change it slowly over time. These changes are often big...involve moving, changing relationships, learning a new job/trade/art from, exercising etc.

      I should say I am a young 22 year old women. 'Depression' runs rampant in my family. I was diagnosed with it as a teenager but I chose not to go on antidepressants. One day three years into my depression routine I realized something very life is short, every day I spend in bed is a waste of my youth and mind. I also realized the MOST important thing...nobody gives a flying crap if you are depressed. Everyone has enough of their own issues to deal with and as well meaning as they may be through various means of support, ultimately no one will be as much of an advocate for your life as yourself. From then on I have forced myself to put my emotional needs first without apology and have gained the confidence that I can change the way I think, behave and react to deal with any situation in a healthy way. I think it is impossible for me to believe in depression as a disease or affliction after having this experience. Depression is part of the human condition, people who experience it are not unique, special, diseased or broken. It does not require a pill. It requires complete independence, self reliance and refusal to allow one's self to lay the blame for one's behaviour on anything or anyone but themselves. It also requires the depressed individuals to put their lives in reach out compassionately and think about the needs and hardships of others instead of focusing on their own struggles. Try volunteering, tutoring, caregiving, etc. I don't see how it is possible to remain depressed when a genuinely more global, humble and less self centered outlook on life is adopted.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Interesting opinion 'Just me' of course you have not backed up why your 'life has been worse' than mine, although I would be interested to know more specifics. I am guessing you are 'old school' and in your day depression was not yet medically recognised or understood, and probably you can't really comprehend it because it remained undiagnosed in your era. I guess you still need to research this further to see that clinical depression can be linked to activity in certain areas of the brain, hormone levels etc and is far from 'a myth'.

      The important thing to remember is just because your brain manages to cope with what life has thrown at you, doesn't mean depression doesn't exist, it just means that you have the mental equivalent of a very good immune system. Someone like me has however got an incredibly strong 'physical' immune system, so I rarely get physically ill. This does not mean I would say that if you had a bout of flu it was 'not real' or was the equivalent of 'demonic possession', and therefore a myth!

    • profile image

      just me 

      7 years ago

      I don't believe in depression. When I was young there was no such thing. I believe it is a sick socially constructed disease, the modern equivalent of demon possession. I was taught, and I will believe until the day I die that I am not my emotions. An adult is in part defined by their ability to understand and effectively manage their emotions. Children cannot control their emotions.

      Not to be competitive, but my life has been worse than yours, and I am a member of several demographic groups where the cumulative suicide rate approaches 30%. But I am the rock, I am in control of myself, I acknowlege and rise above the sorrow of this world and my suffering is my strength. I am an adult.

      I find the entire idea of medical depression to be depraved and disempowering, teaching adults that they are helpless and cannot manage their emotions. I recognize that I am afraid often. I accept that, the same as I'd accept acne or a bad leg, adapt, and move on.

      Emotions are an effective innate radar system to the external environment. Negative emotions are not bad in and of themselves, and indicate either/both negative external environmental factors to deal with or a maladjusted personal world view/expectations.

      I do not believe in depression, I could never bring myself to believe in depression, and if I did choose to accept that conception of myself I would lay down and die. There was no such thing when I was young, there was only personal responsibility and personal discipline. Depression is the modern equivalent of demon possession, in other words a myth that will be considered barbaric in the future.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Dave, we are very restricted locally as to available services such as support groups, largely because this a small island where too many people now too many other people if you get my drift. The problem with this is anything you share in any kind of support group, will quickly go all around the island, and as with many small populations gossip runs rife. I, like many others, would not feel very comfortable sharing my innermost thoughts and emotions with people who might well go on to share that same information with enough other people that my personal life would become locally well known. In fact, for this reason I suspect there aren't any such groups locally, as I have never heard of any, nor seen any posters in the Doctor's surgery for them etc.

      Thanks for your suggestions Dave. I wish you well too :)

    • dkanofsky profile image


      8 years ago from Bethalto, Illinois

      Being productive as you are by gardening and writing are excellent ways to fight off depression. Just wondering if you have tried any support groups?

      I wish you the best.

      Kindest regards,


    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for your interesting comment dkanofsky. Actually I do count myself as a survivor, as if I wasn't I would probably have topped myself ages ago. Yes I am a victim of depression, but in the same way as someone run over by car is a victim, it was out of their control, but they can still potentially survive the impact. I do survive, day by day, and I do go out and grow loads of vegetables on my allotment, write here on Hubpages etc. I think of that as proactive and productive.

      As for finding the support, well that is the hard part, because as I said before, counselling just never worked for me, and nor did antidepressants, so I really don't know what other options I could even try and find, as they all seem to fall into one of those 2 categories. What does make me feel better is gardening on my allotment and writing, so in a way that is the therapy I utilise the most because it seems the most effective means of controlling my depression and stopping the anxiety attacks.

    • dkanofsky profile image


      8 years ago from Bethalto, Illinois

      Here's the problem with depression. Those who have it, myself included,are susceptible to bouts of depression brought on by life's stressors. You mention quite a few of them in your hub. However and this is a big one, we are also extremely susceptible to staying a victim of depression for years. You yourself admit you are a victim. That's a problem. How do you ever expect to get better? When it boils down to it, the only one that can make the effort to switch from victim to survivor is you and nobody else.

      You can do that is to set a goal for yourself to become a survivor of depression That is accomplished by becoming proactive or becoming productive. Then take the small steps necessary everyday to reach that goal. Now of course, you might need support, but even with that you have to find that support.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Very possible mcmathqbs, I just hope they not only start correctly diagnosing it on a regular basis, but also find some treatments that actually work.

    • mcmathqbs profile image


      8 years ago from In the UK

      hi misty, glad you felt you could share this.

      I think there are a large percentage of people who could be described a clinically depressed, but cant decide if its just their normal way of living life .

      Its time the medical proffession stopped guessing and started diagnosing.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Mentalist acer, you do make a valid point there. ;)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Depression is as real a health problem as any other,it's just over-marketed.;)

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi AuraLee, really nice to 'meet' someone who understands because they have been through much the same themselves, and thanks for sharing your situation here.

      To answer a couple of points you raised in your comment. My Doctor is still my Doctor, but the way the Social Security and benefits system works over here, is that after you have been signed off for a certain length of time, they want to bring in their 'own expert' for a second opinion. This is mandatory, so either attend the appointment or all benefits will be stopped. Unfortunately this second opinion comes from a Psychiatrist who barely knows anything about your case, and simply has some brief notes and knows what problem you are signed off with. Of course the other problem is she is employed by the Social Security Department, so has their interests as a priority, not the individuals.

      Another point you made was about putting up with the bad partners in my past must have meant at some point I did have low self confidence. I am not sure it was that though, and I feel it was more a case of low self esteem, i.e. I didn't like myself very much and probably thought it was all I deserved. To me low self confidence would have been the case only if I had been to scared of leaving them because I believed I would never cope or would not find anyone else to have me.

      I agree with what you say that "if WE can't even fully understand that we aren't lazy, how can anyone else? I don't know if depression can be "believed" by someone who hasn't experienced it, as it's so invisible."

      These are wise words indeed.

      Good Luck in your own situation too. I hope you do manage to find a job that stimulates you and helps you cope with your own depression. Luckily your partner sounds very helpful and understanding, and takes pressure off around the house etc. My Husband is good at this too, and does most of the housework, which is a big help.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I too stay up late on the net and then have to sleep until 3, 4 or 5 pm. It's not uncommon for me to go to bed earlier, like even 6pm and not get up until midday to 2pm. It is so easy to think ourselves lazy but we (should) know better. I have had depression since I was at least 15, maybe earlier (approx 18 years ago) but I can't handle the side effects of any type of antidepressant so I don't use them.

      I recently finished a uni degree (wholly due to support from my boyfriend who does everything at home) and I feel terrible that I don't have a job yet. I feel really lazy. And the worst thing is, I want a career so bad! But my procrastination levels are hugomungous.

      I don't know how anyone could get through what you have encountered. Regarding self confidence, you must have had some level of low self confidence to accept poor treatment from your exes. (You can disagree, I may be wrong, and I know there are other logistical factors involved in leaving someone.)

      So what happened to the doctor that would extend your sick certs? How did you end up having to see these clueless people for an opinion?

      It is a confusing feeling knowing that you DO want to work and have in the past, but yet you can't. And even though we know what depression is like, we still blame ourselves for "laziness". Personally, I know I will be happier once I get working (part time of course) because when doing clinicals during uni, I was very effective, working well and happier than I have been for a long time. It is very hard getting out of bed though. I don't want to lose a job because I had to have too many sick days.... Very very occasionally I have felt what it's like to have a normal energy level, so I know the diff between normal "don't want to get out of bed for work" and what I experience.

      Best of luck with your appointments and thnkyou for helping to spread the message.

      It does make you think though, if WE can't even fully understand that we aren't lazy, how can anyone else? I don't know if depression can be "believed" by someone who hasn't experienced it, as it's so invisible.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Maria, I hope you are right, and I am really pleased you are okay now :)

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Cindy, I can understand your depression coz I was once like you years ago of my life...I resort to dieting and keeping myself beautiful but deep inside I was so rotten...I know you will do good.... Goodluck

    • muvhen profile image


      8 years ago from northants

      wow this an interesting view, certainly a holistic approach of all the issues surrounding depression. you might also like this

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Earth Angel,

      What a wonderful insightful and in depth comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it.

      I wish we did have a level of good quality mental health in terms of psychiatrists etc locally, but the standard is so bad that even my own Doctor told me that the local standard was 'crap'. Even the Social Security get their second opinion from a UK based Psychiatrist they fly over every few months to see people like me for an hour, before going back to the board and giving them a report on her opinion as to my suitability to return to work. It is so frustrating that they could even assume she could determine this based on one hour with me and little knowledge of my past in any detail.

      We live on a small island, and even if there were local women's groups or churches to go to that offer support, there is a very good chance you would know one or more people in the group. Gossip spreads fast on this island, and before you know it half the island would know that you were going to such a group, and no doubt it would have distorted by then into you being the local psychopath. I think that is why groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous will never really work too well here, the problem being the 'Anonymous' part ending up a bit of a farce.

      The counselling I have had in the past, and the various antidepressants I have tried have failed to have any impact on the problem, which is why I no longer take antidepressants and of course don't go to counselling due to the poor standard locally, and the lack of any effect when I previously went to counselling in England, and then again later with a Private local Psychiatrist.

      On the plus side I am not suicidal, and I do battle on, somehow surviving all life throws at me. The trouble is that each new trauma leaves me a little bit more damaged than before. Perhaps by sleeping so much it removes the need for me to deal with the issues I face.

      I have to say I never considered the possibility of Physiological versus Psychological or even Spiritual depression. I never even knew there were categories like this, so your information is very enlightening. It would make sense that I could be suffering from a combination of all of these, and certainly the first two. How you explain this to a doubter I don't know, but I do try to describe the physical aspects of the problem along with some of the life experiences I believe lead to the physical manifestations of the problem. Not sure it helps much, because the only people who seem to really 'get it' are the people who have suffered from this themselves or in my case my actual Doctor (who is a diamond).

      Again, I thank you so much for your in depth response to this hub. I hope your answer will also benefit others who read this hub and the comments that followed. I might write more on the subject, I don't know for sure yet where I could go with this next. I have already covered the 'Sleeping too much' in another recent Hub. Anyway, watch this space, you never know :)

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Kathryn, I hope that is all it takes and it is kind of you to care. :)

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Suiiki, wow, for your Mother to tell you it was 'demonic possession' must have been so frustrating.

      When it comes to the other kids at school I think you are incredibly forgiving to not get any sense of 'poetic justice' over those that doubted mental illness was real, finding out the hard way. I can't say I would be so charitable, and a part of me at least would be thinking 'Well, at least now they know it IS real'.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here :)

    • kathryn1000 profile image


      8 years ago from London

      I understand that.You have certainly had alot of adverse events in your life so you do have some strength.I think you are worn out.Rest is what you seem to need.Good luck

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Kaylee,

      Thank you for sharing your story here too. Like you I tried the Cannabis route for some years, it helped me sleep and seemed to immediately remove any stress I was suffering at the time. The only problem I had was that my usage crept up to about 7 joints a day, and occasionally I too would smoke them during the day, and not just the evenings. Thankfully I no longer smoke it, and I had no trouble just stopping when I returned to Guernsey to live. The depression and anxiety was still there of course, but at a level where I could still cope with working as well. It was another couple of years before it all caught up with me and became too much. Unfortunately in my case medication and counselling has failed to help, I just have to deal with it as best I can.

      My biggest problem is I am now tending to lean on alcohol instead, which is simply a disaster waiting to happen. My Doctor has even told me to cut down, but it is easier said than done. Although I only drink about 4 cans of cider a night (which would not be much for a man), this is strong stuff and for a woman I should only have a maximum of about 1.5 cans a night to stay within the safe units range. The damage is now showing on my 'Gamma GT' level, which is over 93 when it should be around 45 for a woman. Not good.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Kathryn1000, thanks for commenting. Sadly as I explained to Bob above, I have tried counselling both in England and here in Guernsey, but never found it helped particularly in my case. On Guernsey local mental health is not particularly good, and the only option is to go private, even then the choices are limited and it doesn't seem to have much effect on me.

      I may yet look at doing something very part time, mainly to get the Social Security to leave me alone. The problem is that the idea of working anywhere like an office freaks me out completely, and it is really difficult to learn any new job with a memory as bad as mine for something as simple as a colleague's name, never mind learning new computer systems, telephone systems etc. The other complication with returning to work is the hours and hours of sleep I need, basically I would be getting up to go to work and getting straight back into bed when I got home. To be honest I wouldn't even employ me right now. Wish it was different, or I had my own business where I could feel less pressured and could work out hours that were viable for my condition.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Bob, thanks so much for commenting in such depth. I can see why you might have mixed emotions based on your friends experiences. Certainly heavy drinking can change people's entire personality, and also drinking can lead to depression, at the same time as depression can lead to drinking. I do suffer from quite low self-esteem, and cannot honestly say I like myself that much, or at least I don't like the useless individual I feel I have become.

      I should add that I have tried various medications and counselling, and none of them made any difference. The last medication I tried was Prozac (Fluoxetine), and the side effects were so horrible I came off it (in fact you might remember I wrote a hub on the subject). Counselling only made me feel like I was in a job interview, so I ended up probably coming across as relatively okay. If it made me feel better at all it was only for the duration of time I was in the session, and upon leaving I was quickly back to feeling the same as before.

      Nowadays the only treatment I have is to help me relax and sleep better, and that is the mild drug Amitriptyline. I don't take it every night, but just now and again it ensures I sleep well.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      8 years ago

      Blessings to you dearest Misty . . .

      I am so sorry you struggle with depression . . . I am so sorry there are so many around you who do not understand the complicated nature of this illness . . .

      Depression can be physiological (in the body) and psychological (in the mind) and spiritual (in the soul) . . . Mostly it is a combination of all three with other factors (horrible life events, sexual abuse, rampant unfairness, constant violence, death of loved ones, even fluctuating hormones, scarce finances, or too much grey weather) complicating matters . . .

      Physiological depression requires medical intervention . . . Psychological depression requires counseling . . . Spiritual depression requires introspection . . .

      One of the worst things for a person who suffers from depression is not being heard . . . not being understood . . . Without being understood, it is nearly impossible for the person suffering with depression to move forward . . . And it is impossible for the person suffering from depression to understand, at least in the beginning, what percentage of what kinds of depression are present . . .

      Unfortunately, family and friends are rarely equipped to provide the long-term repeated sounding board needed for such an intense healing process . . .

      Family and friends usually do not have the training nor do they have the time . . . And sometimes they resent being forced into the care taking role . . . Understandably, a husband married a wife, not a patient . . .

      There are many wonderful people who can fill the role of confidant and listener . . . Professional psychologists and/or life skills coaches . . . And less expensive women's groups and local churches . . .

      Writing about depression is good, but being heard is critical to moving through the process . . . Being heard and understood by someone you care about and who only wants the best for you is paramount . . .

      One of the things I noticed about your writing above is how hard you are trying to get people to understand . . . I think one of the reasons people in your close circle do not understand is that you are trying to convince them of a physiological depression with a long list of psychological reasons . . . Although they may not know why, it doesn't ring true to them . . .

      Your feelings are very real . . . Very valid . . . And it doesn't really matter where it comes from, it is very uncomfortable and highly debilitating . . .

      If we think about where our feelings come from we will realize all feelings come from our thoughts . . . Without our thoughts, there are no emotions, there is no depression . . . Thoughts are something we can control . . .

      "I was feeling bad about having no shoes . . . until I met a man who had no feet . . ."

      How you can tell if your depression is mostly physiological or psychological is a need to explain . . . Physiological depression doesn't care if anyone understands or not . . .

      Another way to tell is to ask 'if my husband, family, friends and medical/financial support all disappeared tomorrow and I had nothing . . . Would I not care and be put in a government run home for the mentally disabled . . . Or would I find the strength, as hard as it might be, to survive?

      I look forward to reading more of your Hubs on this topic . . . It is a really hard one to deal with you . . . You are doing so with openness and a good heart . . .

      I send warmest blessings to you and yours, EarthAngel . . .

    • Suiiki profile image


      8 years ago from City of the Newly Wed and Nearly Dead

      I know exactly how you feel! My mother used to try to say that my bipolar disorder is caused by demonic posession. I also knew people in school who claimed there was no such thing as real mental illness and depression was a sign of a weak mind...well, most of them either developed drug/alcohol addictions, or got pregnant and were slammed with post-partum depression. They learned the hard way that mental illness is very real (And I feel sorry for them...not only would I never wish mental illness on a person, but to have one's beliefs torn from them so creully has to be devastating.)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have only recently faced my anxiety and depression, which, now that I understand more about, have come to realise I have been suffering from for some time now.

      Many years ago I went to my GP about excessive sweating on my hands and feet. He tested my blood and determined I had a slightly overactive thyroid, but not bad enough that it required medications. Instead he told me to see the pharmacist for a body deodorant that I could apply to the affected areas. Not once did he discuss with me that it might be something other than a physical condition and to be honest the thought never occurred to me that it might be a mental health issue.

      From that point other symptoms began to show, that I put down to being shy.....not wanting to go to large shopping centres, having to give myself pep talks each day just to get out of bed on go to work etc....after having my second and third children, I began to ‘hide away’ at fear of not being able to cope with them in public, fear of judgement, and not be organised enough and having everything I needed (enough nappies, changes of clothes etc...) I turned to marijuana to help ease my anxiety. I found it helped me sleep better and used to use it nightly. Over time, my nigh time use slowly began to increase to using it before going to work, I would come home on my lunch breaks so have more and it was the first thing I did when I got home. I guess in a way I was self medicating but all the time having no idea of the root cause of my problems or contemplated that my mental health was the problem. This went on for over 10 years, before a series of difficulties pushed me to breaking point and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

      The stress of my job (working 50 or more hours a week in my Government job, yeah you read that right, some of use public servants work dam hard), a death in the family, and other long term stresses bought my house of cards down. I have been told I have mild to moderate depression and moderate anxiety. So far, regular sessions with my physiatrist, meditation, diet changes, exercise, coping strategies and some sleeping pills are helping. Anxiety and depression are very real illnesses and anyone who tells you otherwise has no idea what they are talking about.

    • kathryn1000 profile image


      8 years ago from London

      I admire your courage in continuing to struggle on in a life that has been so hellish.I hope you can find a sympathetic psychiatrist.The only thing about work is that it can help if it's undemanding as it gives you a routine and takes you away from the dreadful pressure from the DHSS.Only you would know if you were ready for something.It's not a good time to find work.Hold on and hope that life will improve.

    • diogenes profile image


      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I have very mixed emotions about this article, Missy. I have a friend who is an ex. partner who suffers from depression and is taking medication daily which works well; the doctor tells her she will need to be taking it for at least one year. HER problem is men. She has a good, supportive husband, although she lied about this when we got together in 2003. Since we called it a day, she is involved with another bloke in Tennessee and has visited him several times. There is no doubt she is ill, as you said, depression is a very real condition or disease. She turned to me when she felt rejected by her latest love-interest and was a complete mess. But when someone is acting in an irresponsible and self-serving way all time as she does, it waters-down the sympathy others feel for her. I can't help feeling - in her case - she is sociopathic as well. She would ditch her husband on 23 years without shedding a tear and constantly lies and betrays him. He is fairly well-off, which is the only reason she stays. Her two kids don't seem to matter much, either, and one has developed into a real little horror, (sex, smoking, drunk - probably drugs, too...and just 17!). S--has had a history of heavy drinking, which hasn't helped.

      She has a real problem with her own self-image, too (I forget the word!). Perhaps you also have suffered with that?

      Well, Misty, I hope things work out and, from what I have seen in me friend, to take medication is better than suffering the agonies of depression....Bob


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