Following the tragic news of Robin Williams taking his own life, the issue of Mental Health comes into discussion.
There are many types of depression and the intensity will vary between each individual and their circumstances. As it’s something I’ve personally dealt with and continue too, I wanted to write something in the hope that we can change the way the deaf community are able to seek help.
I’ve been diagnosed with depression twice. The first time I was given anti-depressants. I threw them away. Taking them wasn’t going to solve the problem and I didn’t want to just numb myself. The second time I had been struggling with my studies and felt overwhelmed. I remember going back to my parents for a weekend. They could see I was different. It wasn’t until my mum asked if I was ok in the morning that I completely broke. I cried for an entire weekend. Although there was no specific reason, I couldn’t stop. This was less than a year ago. I have a great support network in my family, friends and partner, for which I am very grateful. It doesn’t change the way my mind functions. It’s not something that everyone else is lucky to have. I was referred to a therapist for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
I received a phone call to discuss my symptoms. It was a long phone call. What my therapist won’t have understood is that a lot of my symptoms are associated with my hearing loss so the call would’ve made me feel worse. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I became angry about my deafness because it impacted on me in so many ways. The constant frustration of not knowing what was going on when announcements were made on the tube and the general ignorance of most hearing people.
Most people that know me may be surprised by the revelation of my depression; it’s understandable when I’ve invested a lot of my time in appearing happy and having fun. I try to always enjoy what I’m doing and most of the time I am genuinely feeling good. But what most people don’t see are the mornings, afternoons and sometimes the entire days that are lost to my bed in an attempt to not have to deal with anything. They don’t see the anxiety I feel when I have to leave the house or the fear of going into an unknown social situation. They may consider my last minute cancellations are rude instead of crippling fear.
I’ve lost a ridiculous amount of jobs due to this. I have a morning where I convince myself where the prospect of dealing with people is worse than not attending, and then the prospect of communicating or confrontation with a superior is completely overwhelming to the point of no return. It changes what jobs I apply for; do I want to deal with people? Do I want to potentially mess things up because I didn’t hear correctly?
There’s a stigma attached to depression too. A lot of people will avoid telling an employer about their mental health due to their responsibilities being restricted or the potential whispers down the hallway due to too much alcohol at the office party and secrets being spilled. The fear exacerbates the depression, which drags you into a descent like you’re being pulled down by a weight around your ankle.
These are some of the symptoms associated with depression:
- Not going out anymore, loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Withdrawing from close family and friends
- Being unable to concentrate and not getting things done at work or school
- Feeling overwhelmed, indecisive and lacking in confidence
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Loss or change of appetite and significant weight loss or gain
- Trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep and being tired during the day
- Feeling worthless, helpless and guilty
- Increased irritability, frustration and moodiness
- Feeling unhappy, sad or miserable most of the time
- Thoughts such as, “I’m a failure”, “Life’s not worth living”, “People would be better off without me”
As always, there is a lack of access for those with depression that are also deaf. The isolation already faced is challenging enough, when coupled communication, the encouragement of seeking help is lost amongst all the phone numbers advising you to call. E-mail isn’t always quick enough but to some, the prospect of speaking of the phone is impossible thus adding to the isolation.
I think we should start a dialogue with the charities that focus on helping those with mental health to address some of the barriers. Charities are a great source of help for most but sometimes we need that little bit extra care and attention. As it currently stands Samaritans offer a phone number, e-mail and pop in services. I think live text should be added to this service. The technology is there and even if it helps just one person, it’s worth it. Mind offer a text service but in limited hours and usually just to offer a call back service.
These link to sites that offer advice for dealing with your depression
If anyone can think of a way to reach out to the Samaritans to get them to consider and potentially implement a live chat option – all options considered!!
by Kimberley Lucas.
(One can also read Sara’s post called “A Few of My Favourite Things” which she wrote in order to try and help other people with too.)