mental

It’s a misconception that depressed people are miserable all the time or that we can’t function. I go to work every day and have only missed a few hours here and there due to my mental state. Apart from telling my boss, no one has any idea what is happening in my life and I imagine everyone would be amazed that I am anything other than happy and normal. Once, a few years ago when I was struggling (albeit to a much lesser degree than now), I worked at a residential school. On the first full day, one of the teachers asked if she could speak to me and told me she was going to have to leave. We walked around the grounds of the school, across the cricket pitch and around the classroom blocks, while she told me shakily that she knew she was heading back down and knew she couldn’t stay. I was struck by her strength and, in order to lessen her obvious shame, I told her that I understood and explained why. She was the first person I ever told. She was astonished. I had hidden it well. I continue to do so. And it was a very long time before I told anyone else. Now I wish I hadn’t because it’s driven them away. But maybe they would have gone anyway. That’s a debate for another time. But I still wonder whether it’s better to be dishonest and hide yourself. What would I say to How are you? if I were being honest? Today I could have said: Tired Bored Lonely Upset Panicky Desperate Not too bad Shaky Relieved Alone Worried Sad Scared Confused And, if you’d caught me at the right moment, just after lunch with the dull task completed and the scary one still a few hours away, I might just have said fine.

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