Talking About the Weather Wednesday April 24, 2019
The BBC weather app showed a smug 20 degrees.
Ha! In the shade, maybe. On the sea wall the heat was intense. The brilliant sun slapped the waves and shattered, so a thousand shards of light ricocheted off the water and onto skin. We wore our sunscreen like Kevlar. The air shimmered so violently one almost expected a mirage of camels to come swaying through palm trees sprouting from the sand.
Easter, and it felt like late July.
And, from the pub garden behind the beach houses, the sound of Karaoke. Someone was singing "Baby, it's Cold Outside."
It made me think of another song.
"The sun is out, the sky is blue
There's not a cloud to spoil the view
But it's raining, raining in my heart."
This Easter, thankfully, I am not suffering with depression, but there have been many, many times, when everything on the outside has been sunny, but inside, it was as dank and grey as February.
If you're reading this, then the likelihood is that you have been there too.
I still remember the feeling of immense relief when my doctor explained about depression. "How can I be depressed?" I had cried. "I have nothing to be depressed about!"
But depression can and does act independently from circumstances. Everything in the garden can be rosy. The sun can be shining, and the sky can be blue and we, on the inside, are living in Winter.
But how to explain?
We can fix a bright smile on our face and pretend – and the less observant will take that smile at face value. The more empathic will see right through the sunny grin and ask us what's wrong.
My friend, with whom I met for lunch today, did just that.
"You're not alright: I can tell!" she said. "And I could hear it in your voice on the phone."
Actually, I'm not depressed right now (thank you, mood stabilising medication). She had picked up that I was in the early stages of a migraine. Sometimes my friends and family can spot it before I do; it exhibits similar symptoms.
But, if it is the Black Dog come for an unwelcome visit and spoiling everything, what can you say?
After many years I've found the best thing to say is, "I'm not very well at present, and – do you mind if I don't talk about it?"
We need to be clear that depression is an illness and that talking about it with well-meaning people who do not understand is exhausting and can be counterproductive.
We may be taking our tablets, we maybe talking with professionals who can help, we may just be hanging on until the black clouds lift and the sun shines again, but we don't need to talk about it if we don't want to.
Your weather on the inside may be different from the weather outside. If so, don't feel guilty. It's the depressive illness which makes you feel cold.
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below.