A few days ago, my prolific blogging friend Don Charisma set the challenge to blog about “Vulnerability”.
Writing about vulnerability is something that is intensely personal and not many people will admit to being vulnerable in any way. When you are vulnerable, it opens you up to the the possibility of exploitation from others.
We see it every day with those who are old, frail or disabled and are taken advantage of by those who have no scruples.
Vulnerability implies that protection is required.
Yet even those who are strong have vulnerabilities. Samson lost his strength when his hair was cut and Achilles died from an arrow in his heel.
In recent times I have seen memes circulating on social media about the link between depression and strength. It states that depression is not a sign of weakness but of having been too strong for too long.
This could well be true in many cases.
What I do know is that depression does make those who suffer from it vulnerable.
It makes us vulnerable because it lies to us.
It tells us that we are worthless. It tells us that nobody loves us and that we are a burden upon them. It tells us that the world would be a better place without us in it.
Sadly, some listen to the dark words whispered by depression in their ears and see no way to make the words stop other than ending their lives.
In February, I wrote “When it all gets too much” about the suicide of Australian celebrity Charlotte Dawson. Last night I watched her last ever interview in which we see her telling the world how things were going to get better. Unfortunately, she took her life less than a month later.
Her sisters and other friends were also interviewed. Her good friend, (designer) Alex Perry shared his heartbreak at losing a “bright, shining” person from his life. He spoke the words “People tell me that she is in a better place now but I just want her here with me”. Her sisters spoke about Charlotte not knowing just how much she was loved because depression was lying to her.
The people left behind felt so helpless.
They realised that this woman was vulnerable and the lies that depression were telling her kept her from seeing the truth.
On the night that Charlotte took her life, I was having the same thoughts as her.
Life would be better without me.
My family don’t need someone with so many flaws in their life.
I wouldn’t be missed.
I was vulnerable.
I believed the whispered words in my mind from a mental illness.
An illness that changes the way you see the world.
Luckily as I lay on the bed contemplating my thoughts, I drifted off to sleep.
Another blogging friend of mine calls this, wearing “Depression Goggles”. These goggles distort the way you see the world and how you believe the world sees you.
The worst thing with depression is that it not only makes you vulnerable with your feelings, but acknowledging your depression to others increases your vulnerability.
When you acknowledge this and share with others, it leaves you wide open to many things. The gossip of others. The pity they bestow. The lack of understanding.
Many people in the past week have asked me why I am leaving my job. I don’t want to tell them that it is for my own mental health. I’m not ready to be vulnerable to some people.
It takes special people to love you through your vulnerability and depression and I am blessed to have them in my life.
I wish that Charlotte only realised that she had them in hers.
(Whilst this fitted in with Don’s prompt, it is something that weighed on my mind today also).