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happy and depressed
Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists

Your depressed friend's good mood doesn't mean they're cured. So much of the world's population is depressed, you'd think we'd all have a clear understanding of it by now. One in four people in the UK are thought to struggle with their mental health.

But (stay with me here, I'm not being hyperbolic) depression isn't like a regular illness, like the flu, it's more of a complicated disease that we don't fully understand, can't yet totally cure, affects everyone differently and has different stages, and that can often be fatal. It's more like cancer. Just like cancer, the illness can be 'beaten' and bodies can be rid of it, but they'll need regular checks to monitor a possible return.

Just like cancer can happen to the healthiest of people and depression can happen to the funniest, a minor blip of strength is something that should be celebrated - of course - but doesn't mean that the patient is 'all better'.

Often the moments of strength are simply all a show for friends and family anyway, as we all tend to want to conceal our true pain from those we love.

But sometimes, sometimes the positive blips can be real, and believe me when I say they're just as confusing for the patient as they are for the friends and family. Personally I very much fall into the 'this is all a fake song and dance for you' gang, and there are very few things or occasions which actually make me feel some feelings. However, the things that do are usually the most inconsequential and trivial (despite the amount of gravitas I award to Supermarket Sweep) that it's easy to fall into the 'ohmygodIamtotallybetternow!' trap.

It always comes back, but it's good to enjoy the light when it shines for a bit, and probably the best time for me to answer any questions about handling and managing my depression, if anyone were to have any I haven't already tried to answer, as when I'm really down the last thing I want to do is talk about it. Karen feels similar to this, telling 'When I'm in a good mood, I like to be asked about my general day (how is my work going? how was my yoga class? What books am I reading or Netflix shows I'm watching?).

I find open questions much easier to answer and if I feel like mentioning my mental health I could do. 'My close friends and family know that if I'm not going to the gym, reading something or working on a project then my mental health has taken a downward turn. 'I find it difficult when someone directly asks 'are you feeling better?' as if depression is the same as a cold or tummy bug.

Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists

'Some days I'm able to be mindful and in the present moment, which is when I'm in a comparatively good mood, but that doesn't mean my depression is 'over' or 'cured', it just means I'm managing it well on that particular day.'

Melody tells us that she too prefers to talk about her illness when she's feeling comparatively 'good', as it's so difficult to talk about it when she's down. 'I'm happy to talk about my depression when I'm in a good mood, and sometimes it can help both me and people around me to understand how the feelings change for me, especially if I couldn't explain it when I was at the bottom,' she says.

Rosie says that she can 'only really talk about depression when I'm in a comparably good mood. The thought fog, lethargy and empty feeling of depression make talking about much of anything seem absurdly complicated [when it's feeling bad]. 'In a good mood, I like to try and get to the gym as much as possible to keep the good mood going and to almost "offset" those bad times when I can barely move.

I do sometimes feel like a fraud though, as on my best days it would seem as though nothing is wrong with me. 'I think the contrast between good days and bad days can be uncomfortable as best and extremely jarring at worst for people close to me.'

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