By Simcha Butchart
I used to suffer from depression. There! I said it!
I have felt like announcing this to the world many times. The hard reality has been that it is generally not a conversation people are comfortable with. It is in fact much easier to avoid speaking about it, to suffer inwardly, silently, than to have a deep discussion about the reality of depression in a person’s life.
It is hard living in fear, fear that I will be misunderstood; that mental health has a stigma attached to it. Anxiety creeps up when filling in application forms and those dreaded questions appear:
Have you ever seen or been treated by a Psychologist?
Immediately my mind begins to race; the questions in my mind swirl. What will they think of me? Will they even understand? This is so important to me. Do I really want strangers knowing my personal life? At those times I wished I didn’t have a history to share.
I feel differently now.
I realize the importance of sharing my story. I am no longer ashamed of it. I suffered from depression for many years as a teenager when I was in high school. In fact, I had no clue that it was happening to me. It started with restless nights and insomnia. Sleep escaped my eyelids, and before I knew it, it was dawn. The day came and I was exhausted. I just could not function at all. This affected my social life, my school work.
I had reached a point where I felt it was me against the world. I remember days where I just could not wake up. I had no desire to get out of bed and face the world. Life had begun to lose meaning and hope. Trying to deal with these feelings just dragged me into a deeper sinking state. It was challenging trying to deal with what was happening to me as a teenager. My state of depression was perceived as a means of trying to control people, or that I was lying, which was not true.
Depression is not a wound that people can see and say what caused it. For me it was internal. Many people can sit next to someone suffering from depression and never know it. That was hard for me. I felt very misunderstood by friends, teachers and even health professionals.
I was eventually placed on anti-depressants. They helped me function, but I felt like I was in a constant daze. I felt like a robot functioning with no feeling. It was a confusing time. Like some situations, sometimes things have to become bad before they improve. I reached that stage. I was at a really low point in my life mentally and emotionally.
Today I am grateful, grateful because I have learned from my experiences.
I came from a world that lacked feelings of worth and purpose to a life where I look forward to the future. The process of healing and transformation was long. I found something that gave meaning to my life; that helped me deal with the depths of myself. What gave my life shape and meaning was my relationship with G-d. I had a reason to wake up in the morning.
Knowing that my very existence came through the Creator, that I am in a loving and meaningful relationship with the Source of life, changed me in so many ways. I now live with the hope and reality of G-d as my Father and Healer. My essence of who I am comes from Him.
Looking back and looking forward, I know the importance of having a different attitude towards mental health. No one has to suffer in silence. My hopes for today and onward are to help people, to promote an atmosphere where people lift each other up and don’t feel they have to carry the weight on their shoulders…to see a world where healing and transformation begins with me.
Simcha Butchart is a Zimbwean born-and-bred artist and teacher. Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and Jewish. She loves vegan food, nature, music and people. Simcha believes in making a difference in the world with others. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel.