Ramon Te Wake compares our mental health to a relationship, one that has to be worked on every day to ensure its health and happiness.
Depressed? Get used to it! No seriously, get used to it. Cause it’s not going anywhere, anytime, soon. You might think that’s cruel, even disrespectful, but getting to know its ominous presence is the key to figuring out, what our relationship is to it. Yep, it is a relationship. And yep, it involves work. Lots and lots of work.
My name is Ramon and I experience depression. I’m not afraid to disclaim it. And I’m proud I can say it out loud. If that helps loosen the stigma and fear attached to it – then I’m here for that.
As a kid, I was drenched in bullying and self-doubt and that nudged my relationship with depression. It’s kind of just hung around ever since. At first, none of it made sense. I just thought I was sad as a result of mean energy seeping into my skin. I didn’t know that contradiction was a thing or that experiencing emotions had consequences. Or that depression had 10 letters. I didn’t get it. And why would anyone need to receive this basket of hostility? It’s like cosying up to sabotage and thinking you’d never be on the list. But, you’re on the list. We’re all on the list.
I know that Mental Health is unique to every person’s life experience and that we all occupy different parts of the spectrum. I know that it’s really hard. I also know that people have lost their lives as a result of how hard it is. (Rest In Peace.) For me, it’s as real as it gets. And as far as I can tell, it’s here for the long haul. However, there have to be rules!
I use the word experience because it indicates that depression visits, rather than moves in. I don’t need it to move in but I do make the bed for it occasionally when it drops by ‘unannounced’.
It rocks up, thick like concrete, singular focus, and not interested in small talk. That’s cool, neither am, I. But when it projects, you need to be ready. “Why are you here you big bold bitch?” Fair question. To be honest, most of us already know the answer to the ‘why’. Intuition. Problem is we don’t want to sit in the why. But it’s in the ‘why’ where the work is needed. The why tells us when our centre is off and you never want to stray too far from the centre! The why tells us when we’re strangling ourselves too tight in self-pity, self-loathing and all the other self’s that sit at the back. Waiting. Ready to strike.
Listen, Mental Health is an inward expedition. It’s a deep trek within that needs grit, will and knowledge. If it were an achievement we’d all be deep-diving without shame. Wait, maybe, that’s it. Maybe it is an achievement and we just didn’t know it. What if it were something to be proud of, something that we could talk about freely without disgrace or blame with our loved ones? What if we got to understand it rather than fear it? What if we told ourselves that we are just fine with it? Now wouldn’t that be something? What if I told you that I always feel alive when it leaves because I know that I’ve done some much-needed soul work?
Let it drop by. Because sometimes, a visit is just what you need.
If you need help with depression or support for your mental health, you can call Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 24 hours daily or LGBT+ support service Outline between 6pm and 9pm every evening or visit depression.org.nz.
Article | Ramon Te Wake. Photo | Melissa Nicole Nickerson.