Depression is an illness that is becoming more and more prevalent in society, and if you were to ask each person suffering from depression, I think you’d get a lot of very different, and very insightful answers. Because while depression is such a common illness, it looks different for every person. When I picture my depression, it’s a little girl with her knees brought up to her chest and her head buried in them, sobbing, in a corner in a small, dark room. For some reason there seems to be a candle in front of the girl, the only light in the room, and even now I’m not sure if that’s meant to be a symbol of hope.
But what I notice most about this little girl – is loneliness. While depression is an illness that is different for everybody, I’m sure a lot of people can identify with that feeling of loneliness. Because that is just one of the many things that depression does – it tries to convince us that we’re alone, that we’re a burden, that no one wants us around, that we’re better off dead, that we’re not good enough. These lies that depression tells us are so convincing, but that’s what they are – lies. Depression is like a beast that holds you in its clutches so tightly because if you break free from it, it will die, and it doesn’t want that. The first step of breaking free is reaching out your hand and grabbing onto whatever support you can.
I managed to break free from my depression when I was 19, I had been in a relationship with my husband for ten months, and he gave me a place to escape from my life with my parents. It was the first step of reaching out, and I don’t hesitate to say that it saved me, because I know that it did. But five years after this, my depression came back with a vengeance, and it was hellbent on destroying me. If you’ve read my first post, Admitting That I Need Help, you’ll have a good idea of how difficult it was for me to reach out again. Reaching out is the one of the scariest and hardest things that you can do, because in order to do so, you have to give yourself permission to be vulnerable, and we’re being raised in a society that thinks vulnerability is weakness (spoiler alert: it’s not).
Several months ago, I was having a break down, and this was the whole shebang: sobbing, hyperventilating, self-harm, suicidal thoughts – I was a mess. The only people that I felt like I could reach out to was my psychologist and my husband, but my husband was uncontactable at work, and, understandably, it was much the same for my psychologist. It hit me how truly alone I was. It wasn’t even the depression talking here, I really was alone, and it really hurt to acknowledge that. So, just like I did when I met my husband, just like I did when I started therapy, I reached out. I started using social media websites to meet people, and my gosh was this anxiety inducing for me. The idea of making posts and commenting on things was terrifying, but after a little while, I was able to do it. I started making new friends who understood what I was going through and who helped me, and who I could help in return. It felt amazing.
And then I moved on to the next social media platform, Twitter, and began commenting and posting there. I started meeting people, and I’ve had people say that they love talking to me (a huge shock for me!). I hadn’t realised how many supportive people are out there, just waiting to give their support. And this brings me to the namesake of this blog – The MH Crisis Angels. Let me give you some quick info about this page and the amazing group of people behind it. The page was founded by Twitter user @My_SimpleMind, and co-founded by @TheGoodTheHuma1, who had the vision to start a structured support system for people who need it. The aim of the MH Crisis Angels are to provide a peer support group to offer support for mental health issues or crises with a dedicated voluntary team, and they believe in transparency and honesty, non-judgementalism, respecting your right to confidentiality, not claiming they are superior or have a fix, and in providing you a safe place to talk.
When I first saw the page starting up, I was quick to follow them. I was having a hard time, and I thought maybe I’d make use of their service. But, “probably not, though,” is honestly what I told myself. Because reaching out to people you’ve never talked to before is SCARY! Especially when you’re reaching out to talk about your own personal issues. And then a little while after following the page, I saw they were recruiting. “I would really love to be a part of that,” I thought to myself. It’s such an inspiring and compassionate thing these people are doing, and they’re doing it because they honestly care. They want to help. But I couldn’t do it, no way. I may be kind and compassionate, and I may care and want to help people, but I would fail so miserably at this. I would probably say something so ignorant and make someone feel worse. And, of course, reaching out to people you’ve never talked to before is scary.
But guess what, folks? A few days later when I saw another recruitment post, I did it! I bit the bullet, and I messaged the page! And my goodness, I am so glad that I did, because the people behind the scenes of that page are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They are all so kind, so compassionate, so friendly, so helpful, and so willing to be there to support everyone. I felt welcomed right away, I felt like I’d finally found my people. And when it came time for me to have my first chat to support someone, they were all so encouraging and were with me every step of the way (another spoiler alert: I actually did pretty good!). Myself and the other Angels are not professionals, but we are people who want to help, who want to support you, and who want to care for you. Yes, reaching out is so scary, but it’s worth it. Even if it’s just to get rid of that lonely feeling.
Stay golden, my friends! ✌️