Sunday Soapbox: Fighting the Good Fight

I’m feeling fairly introspective this evening so it won’t be a particularly ranty post from atop my soapbox tonight.

After a few busy weekends I was finally able to carve out time for my usual Sunday ritual of hitting a cafe by myself and reading the mags from the papers over a leisurely coffee and a salad again today. I find it incredibly relaxing and therapeutic: it only takes about an hour or two but completely revitalises me for the week ahead.

This week one of them had a piece by author Matthew Reilly where he talked about his former wife, who took her own life a few years ago. One paragraph in particular got me right in the guts:

Probably the biggest lesson from Natalie’s depression was that medical conditions don’t care how much money you have, what kind of house you live in or what kind of car you drive. When you’re successful, you think you can solve or achieve anything just by diligence and hard work, but there are some fights you can’t win – even though you should still keep fighting anyway.

Such a simple, honest, poignant truth about the reality of living with depression (or any chronic health condition, really). To know that despite all your best efforts you will likely never outright defeat it is a humbling experience. I’m fortunate in that I’ve never actually felt suicidal but it’s still hard to accept that the black dog is unlikely to ever leave my orbit for long. I can shore myself up so that the barking isn’t so loud, and even completely shake it for a spell, but eventually it always comes sniffing round again.

Yet as Reilly says, it’s still a fight worth fighting.

If you ever want to give up, don’t. Take a break, cede some territory while you consolidate your defences, allow yourself to feel how hard it is, but know that you are always worth fighting for.

If you don’t have depression but care about someone who does, make sure they know you’ll always fight for them too. You don’t have to understand what they’re going through to validate their emotions and just sit with them in the dark places. Listen, and care, and it will provide at least a small boost to their arsenal, even if it’s still not quite enough.

Depression is, well, depressing. And implacable. And completely overwhelming at times – even to those simply observing it.

But that’s still no reason to give up the fight.

Stay strong, y’all!

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