The Dark Mark (in which Ellen finds she has more to say)

Sometimes it’s there for a reason.

Sometimes it just appears.

You didn’t choose it, but there it is. One day, you’re minding your own business when you notice the pain. Sometimes you don’t even notice the pain. Either way you look down at your forearm and there it is. 

The Dark Mark.

You’ve heard stories about it, of course. Maybe someone in your family had it. Maybe it was a friend. Maybe they survived. Maybe they didn’t. Either way, you have it now.

The Dark Mark.

Maybe you try to ignore it. Maybe you try to think your way out of it. Maybe you hide it, hoping it’ll go away all by itself. Maybe if you don’t press at it, it won’t show. Only you will know it’s there. 

None of these things will get rid of the Mark. You’ll keep looking at your forearm and there it’ll still be, even though others can’t see it. 

The sensible ones are the ones who talk about it. Who pull back their sleeve, push against their flesh, bring it into the light for others to see. Maybe they ask around online. Maybe they talk to friends or family. You know, the ones who had the Dark Mark. If they survived it. Maybe they go to the doctor and talk to them about it. 

And they find that they’re not alone. That they never were. When one person reveals their Mark, others start revealing theirs. The survivors, or the ones who are still trying to get rid of the Mark. Or the ones who know that it’s there to stay, who are living with it and doing their best to keep it at bay.

Maybe after some time, the Dark Mark fades. If you’re lucky. If you put the work in. But the thing about it is, it’s been there. That potential is always there. It could come back at any time. 

I’m sure by now you know what I’m talking about. 

I have depression. It’s fading. It’s taken over a year. When it first showed up it was one of the worst weekends of my life. It’s taken medicine, and help. I don’t want to hide my Mark. It’s there. It could come back. That terrifies me. 

But I know I’m not facing it alone. That’s how I know my depression isn’t as deep as what others have had to deal with (like the former flatmate I had to take to the ER because I knew that if I didn’t he was going to kill himself). I’m one of the lucky ones. 

I pray that one day, everyone will see depression for what it is. That there won’t be a stigma about it. That people who have the Dark Mark will be able to be open about it without fear, because right now, fear keeps a lot of people silent, hiding away when they most need to reach out to others. 

Please, if you have depression, talk to someone. Get help. I know there is a voice telling you you’re alone. That nothing will work. That there’s no point.

That voice is a lie. Together, we can beat it. 

Not. One. More.

Links of hope: Genie, you’re free

So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll have seen the sad news that Robin Williams passed away yesterday, aged far too young, and sadly it seems he took his own life. 

Even a cursory look at the news will tell you the above, and mention his publicist’s saying he had been struggling with depression. 

There have been many tributes to him, as is only right. I thought Veronica Varlow’s was very beautiful but then I think that about so many of the things she writes. 

Thus in place of the usual curated silliness, I’d like to present some links about depression. I call this links of hope because my hope is that they’ll be useful, whichever group you fall into.

If you’ve never experienced depression:

Ali Brosh explains what it’s like to have depression at Hyperbole and a Half (a famous post).

Here is a friend of mine’s take on the subject

Know someone who is experiencing depression? Buzzfeed published this very helpful guide on things you shouldn’t say to someone with depression (with positive alternatives)

If you are experiencing depression, or think you might be:

There are many tests to help see whether you might have depression and help you access support (because it truly isn’t something you can deal with on your own). This is one of the New Zealand sites with a self-test

If it’s not something you’ve experienced before, it can be confusing and obviously difficult. Here is Buzzfeed again with things nobody tells you about depression.

Most of all, if you’re experiencing depression, I have this to say to you. You’re not alone. Please, reach out to someone.

Here is a list of numbers to call if you live in New Zealand.  

Here are a load of American helplines.

Here is the Samaritans website

Wishing you all good mental health.