Posted by: Joan Spiller | June 29, 2016

The one about depression (Shhh!)

Anyone with half a real ear to my world, would know that I had a pretty .. rubbish .. time of it in ’14/15. From a house-fire, to little/no income, multiple deaths of loved ones (animal + human) and health issues .. The list COULD go on, but I am just trying to make a point (not point it all out!)

So yeah, while I generally dislike “labels”, I suspect that is purely because my parents didn’t allow for them – viz it makes me so “ugh” uncomfortable when someone tries to apply one to me.

Cos if I had to apply a label to myself for the last few years? I would probably use words like “anxious”, “stressed”, “sad”, “worried”, “fretful” and so on.

You see how I can’t even say “depressed”? Mmm, maybe more on that later ..

I suppose the other reason I dislike “titles” when it comes to ill health, is that they can so often end up defining you – at least, in other people’s eyes. “Oh – you know, (cue: sideways head, shoulder shrug and slight smily-grimace) – he / she’s got .. voice lowered: depression.”

As an aside, and I wonder if people realise = but suspect they do not. Quite possibly the worst words to hear when you’re bordering on losing the plot – is what was said to me on many many occasions:

“Oh Joan/ babes / hon. (etc) You’ll be fine.. you always are.”


Cos ya know what? When in that space, you actually don’t know if you will ‘be fine” (for all you HOPE you will be.. ) you really feel anything but “fine” and OK.

Tis fair to say the below pic summed me up all of 2015 .. and while I am not really one to bog myself down / allow myself to be sad or unhappy (refer earlier, it’s not the done thing in our family) the reality is: I rarely felt anything but anxious and distressed  ..

And part of me, as I type this – feels “glad” most of you didn’t know just how desperately miserable I was.

But ………


whywhwywhy is it so bad to admit to not being fine? Why do we try to protect people who care about us, when we ourselves are breaking apart?

Anyone who knew me in the real sense, was – I think, despairing with me. I can’t explain how bad it felt when I was standing ankle deep in mud, sobbing at the base of a broken downpipe, dux tape in hand – trying to stem the flow of water from my tank when CJ came home. The look of total sadness on her face: seeing her Mother in such a state. It.Was.Foul.

And for all I tried to hang on to the pleasant times, and I did have some – you can’t help it when you have animals around – they were just not enough: in balance.


I’ve never really been one to think about depressed people. In our family, as previously mentioned – depression means you’re weak..

And weak is bad.. It’s that simple.

I also don’t really know how to deal hella well with people who admit to how they’re feeling. So I get it – emotions are awkward.

I find my approach to helping someone in need is to do something for them rather than offer sage (ish) counsel or to sit and encourage them to talk thru’ what they’re feeling –  at least then I am busy.

And hopefully helping!

It’s something else my parents eschewed as the done thing. Help, silently and whatever you do (mentally, financially or whatever) do it – but do it quietly.

Another segue… Screw the Brits, and their stiff upper lip.

That whole “it’ll be ok / harden up” concept alone is (I guess?) a HUGE reason for so many suicides and /or anxious people.

Cos how DARE we admit to being anything other than “fabulous” or (at worst) “OK”, during the course of life –  where so much can change so quickly – and with little warning .. Oftentimes leaving people dazed and confused (my state for 2 or more years!)


Yet we are measured, judged and given attitude about what goes on for us, including all those things we had limited (or no) control over.

Ask yourself this: how is this OK?


So yeah, sure – “it’s just a state of mind” ..

Well to you I then ask this: what isn’t?

Just wow so bad

And to people who offer the sort of statements above?

How dare you.

This truly leaves me speechless (with rage!) for all I have no idea what imgur is – I am guessing it is where idiots hang out? I am Grrr

As I said, I found quite a few photos around the traps while writing this post .. and tbh, it’s been a long time coming. A sad indictment of the fact I couldn’t face being unhappy / sad – honest..etc

I felt I had to “pull myself back up” and be ‘OK‘ / back on track (etc) before being able to think back to the bad stuff .. emotions .. and such..

Cos none of you wanna hear “meh I’m sad” over and over .. I know *I* don’t!

BUT .. (She’s off again!) Want to know what doesn’t help ANY of us?

HOBBY horse time!

Now and then you see these stupid posts online – “look up” blah blah as tho to suggest when you’re using your phone, you’re bad. Or missing out.

Cos you’re engaging in a format of comms that someone else has decided is not OK.

Truth be told? There’s been days when sending snaps or whatsapps (etc) to friends is all that kept me going.

And then you get this sort of article posted online..

Now to be fair? To an extent I agree..

Many’s a night I have fretted away some time, keeping busy doing chores and worrying before posting my “feels” online be it facebook, snapchat, twitter or whatever.

And when you finally crack and say something you really feel:

Your newsfeed grinds to an excruciating halt! But hey, post a picture of your dog (or magpie, cake, coffee or wine) – boom: LIKE city – woohoo!

Post something about the fact you’re struggling – bam: Seems normal every day intelligent people don’t know what to do / what to say.

Ironically, I also get that.

Refer earlier – we don’t do “sad” or needy or whatever. And phew – we now have options vs. “like” when it comes to Facebook..

Makes it so much easier to be a good friend..
Sort of.

I guess this is where your real friends come into action. And perhaps when you realise how few you really have.

Because, truly all this being honest crap, it make us uncomfortable.

It isn’t fun.

And life (online) seems to be all about the perfect selfie, the funnest event, the best place for a check in, the latest and greatest..

OMG – how to handle the fact someone is posting an “I feel like shit” type of post?

I also learned last year just how lucky I was with some of my friends & family.

I hope everyone has them (and seeks them out) when they’re in a bad space / needing someone.

They are the ones that love you when you don’t love you. They visit, they do stuff for you, give you comfort (in a variety of ways), they don’t judge you – they’re just there.

Some give you “action” support – which you value so much cos that’s your thing  (in my case) others force you to relax in their generosity, leaving you to be cossetted / able to escape for a time ..

Either way, it’s special. And in my case, was truly a life saver.

Oh and one final point to make for someone who is “helping” a friend who’s not themselves.

PLEASE think more than twice, when you’re delivering the (apparently mandatory) speech about how “you’re strong and breathing, you’ll be OK”.. Or before you merely post a heap of “xxxx” on their post.

Cos what if the options that person is considering attractive don’t involve breathing or kisses?

They sure as hell can’t feel your x’s so yeah – this may seem rude, but maybe THINK before you trot out your next platitude to someone who dares to expose their concerns and emotions to their “friends”.


You could make or break them..

Lots to think about.

Depression – in as much as I knew it – is one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. And if this post helps even just one person understand it (in as much as I fully do not understand it) then I am happy I persevered with the post.

Cos it has not been easy to do 😦

If you’re still here, thanks for reading. I do hope I’ve given you something to think about.

This has been an amazingly painful post to write, it’s taken many, many months to come to fruition. And the confusion is perhaps apparent.

But if I can write this and help someone/s – it – everything – was not totally wasted.


  1. brave brave post joan. i think the more people who say the sort of things you are saying the better off we all will be. i have several friends with depression and they vary in their attitudes to medical/chemical assistance, based on their attitude to the “weakness” they feel they are exhibiting or rather they feel society thinks they are exhibiting, rather than the medical condition they are experiencing – if you have diabetes you take insulin, if you cant see clearly (like most of us my age) you wear glasses and no one thinks of you as “weak” – just doing the sensible thing. the problem with depression is taking those first steps when you are TIRED – reaching out for help is often impossible and you need someone to reach out to you instead.

    good for you for sharing this and i do truly hope it helps not just those with depression but also those without to help their friends with.

    like james, please forgive me for saying anything that caused distress. i certainly never intended platitudes but sometimes that is the way it seems. a few words on a page are not able to convey tone of voice, facial expressions or indeed real hugs, but sometimes they do actually come packaged (in the senders head) with the right amount of all of those.

    so fwiw….hugs joan, and if you were here i would make you a cup of tea and go open the door to let the dogs out for their morning ablutions….practical but with emotional support.


    • it’s so shit that this sort of discussion has to be considered brave eh .. I have really found this to be life changing, the whole “acceptance” of being less than in control / happy or even just OK. And the mental trauma that comes with such a thing.

      I know I used to think “meh, get over it” when people said they were depressed.
      I no longer do.
      But I still don’t really know how to handle it best.

      It’s shitty and complicated and awful.

      And I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. As the one undergoing it or their friends and families.


  2. WOW, quite a wakeup call. Can’t remember just what I said at times when you were going through this, but hope I did not make any of the statements that are mentioned. Been depressed with the loss of sons and know how empty some comments like “I know just how you feel” are when made by people that never lost a child. How could they possibly know.

    Forgive me if I did say anything along the way except I wish I were able to be there and give you a hug. All I felt was hurt for you because I was not there.. I felt so helpless. Your post makes me more sensitive to those I know that are going through depression. Thanks Joan. Love you, Tx Jim


    • You didn’t do anything bad at all James! I just was sharing my feelings in general. I knew and felt the love coming from TX to NZ all the way 🙂 (And knew you got it, with the things you’ve endured that are way way worse, also) Love you


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