A letter for those who don’t “believe” depression.



Becky is a Mum to two young boys, a Wife and a Daughter to Dad with Alzheimer's. She's a secondary school teacher, mental health advocate and depression sufferer. Becky is trying to do her bit to shatter the stigma which surrounds depression.

Dear unbeliever,

Firstly I want to start by saying I’ve been where you are now. Before I became ill with depression at the age of 26 I had no clue what it was. If you had asked me I probably would have said people get sad and low sometimes but they can pull themselves out of it. It’s all about mindset! How wrong I was!

How far from the truth. Even now I would agree that unless you have suffered from a mental illness you can never really appreciate what it is like. Although to be fair either can someone who has! Each mental health issue is unique.

But that doesn’t mean I am giving up! Yes you maybe one of the lucky ones and never suffer from depression. You may never know how crippling it is. You may never know that it is as serious as cancer and claims many lives. I hope you don’t have to suffer. But I do hope you will try to understand what it is like for those that do.

I want you to know that I understand it is so difficult to know what it’s like. I want you to know it is hard to see the invisible. I want you to know I have been where you are now.

But I need you to trust me. I need you to believe me. I need you to realise that depression is an illness as serious as any other life long condition. I need you to know that no one would ever make up this hell.

I can’t just snap out of it. I can’t pull myself together. I can’t just be happy. It is not about a positive mindset. Depression is an illness.

I will probably live with this my whole life. I hope it will never attack me again like it has done over the past year. I hope I can keep it in control in the future.

You have not seen. You have not experienced it. But please believe. I am not sure there is any analogy that will really help you understand.

I know you are sceptical. But everyone has mental health. Everyone has a mind. Why does our brain not get as much respect as any other part of our body? I broke my arm and you understood. Someone you know has diabetes and you realise they have a life long condition that needs medication. Your family member has cancer and you do whatever you can to help.

Depression is an illness. It is real. It needs help. It needs understanding. It needs compassion. It needs treatment. Perhaps the problem is that it is different for every person. For some medication helps. For others it is counselling. For others a combination of different strategies.

So unbeliever I am not making this up. I cannot just have a positive mindset. I wish it was that simple. I have an illness which I live with. Sometimes I have it in control. Sometimes it overtakes my whole life. But it certainly is real.

Believe me. Listen to me. Try to understand me. I am 1 in 4 with a mental health condition. But I am 1 in 1 that has mental health. Yes all of us do! So take care of yours and respect other people’s.