As I walked along the beach in Monterrico, Guatemala, it occurred to me that in that very moment I was "living the dream". A day of relaxing, or hiking, reading or swimming lay ahead of me. I had no commitments, no chores, nothing needing my attention. The weather was glorious, hot but with enough of a breeze to make the heat enjoyable rather than bearable. There was nothing - logically - to stop me being in the best of moods. So, why then, was my mood low? Why, when I could be appreciating the beauty of a deserted beach was my head filled with negative thoughts?
One word. Depression.
As illnesses go - for that's what depression is - this one is next to invisible. There can be few, or even zero physical symptoms, and those that exist are easily explained away. Weight loss can be attributed to dieting, tiredness to stress, disinterest to rudeness and so forth. Perhaps if depression had an obvious image - like chicken pox or the flu for example - it would be easier to understand and accept. As this isn't the case there have been so many times when I have questioned myself, is this all in my head? Is there actually anything wrong with me? Maybe I am attention-seeking or just unfriendly? The truth is, yes, it is all in my head, it's a "mental" illness. However, it is no more my decision to suffer from it than chicken pox or the flu.
It was only on the Monterrico beach that I realized that yes, I am privileged and yes, I do have more money, prospects and opportunities than most people. But, I still feel this way, I don't want to - believe me I'd much rather not be carrying 365 pills in my backpack - and I didn't chose to.
Perhaps it's only in the face of paradise with a depressed mind that I can finally accept that I am ill. And with acceptance can come recovery, this I'm positive about. So next time I decide I don't need to take my antidepressants, please remind me that they are keeping me healthy, and at this moment in time I need them to live.