Firstly, apologies to any Dan Brown fans reading this post who maybe thought that the title refers to his 2000 bestseller, Angels & Demons. I hope you are not too disappointed.
Instead, during the week I was reminded of a famous quote by Tennessee Williams whilst I was discussing my experience of depression with a colleague. You may, or may not know that Williams was a homosexual in an age when being gay was less tolerated than today and it caused him much angst. When encouraged to “change” his sexuality his response was;
“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels”
Since openly admitting to my long-term experiences of depression I can identify with this as I feel strongly that I am a better person for having had this illness, battled through it and am now in a position to help others do the same. By diverting the energy previously used in hiding my illness and pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I am now much more creative and have found that I have rediscovered talents and abilities long forgotten and buried under the black clouds of depression.
Other advantages include me having a much more compassionate nature and attitude to others who may find themselves feeling vulnerable and not functioning in their personal, family or work environment. I find that I am much less judgmental than many and much more tolerant of people’s often uncharacteristic behaviour when clearly not themselves.
I have always been open and honest with my teenage son Will about my depression and low moods and he has often borne the brunt of them. He has grown up with an understanding of this illness and has always been a credit to himself, his friends, his teachers, his family and his football team regardless of difficult patches in his life when I have been unable to support him as much as I would have liked. He is by nature very caring and with the additional experience of living with a mum who is often debilitated by depression he has developed a tolerance towards any of his friends and school colleagues who show signs of stress and other mental illnesses such as mild Asperger’s syndrome and autism. His friends will often gravitate towards him for advice when needed and like me, he has had to learn to “offload” some of this responsibility occasionally so that his mood is not adversely affected. He does this admirably and I am confident that he will be an amazing support for all his friends in future.
Watching TV this morning, I saw a feature about Angie Stevens who suffered very badly from post-natal depression and whose husband gave her some sketch books in the hope that she would be able to express herself by her drawing and return to something that she excels at. His astute gift worked and she gradually recovered by sketching her 3 children every day and writing a Blog about her experiences. Sketching is something she is good at which gave her confidence and something to focus on. Writing the Blog encouraged her to post regularly and again, was a big focus in helping her to recover.
Check out Doodlemum it is simply brilliant.
And just think, if she hadn’t had her demons, we wouldn’t be sharing her “Angels” now.