Have you seen the Channel 4 trailer We're the Superhumans ? It's totally inspirational. Seeing all those athletes who have to work twice as hard - wait, probably six times as hard - to achieve what able-bodied athletes can do in swaps. They are true heroes. Superhumans for sure. We see their prosthetic limbs, blindness, dwarfism and we can make immediate assumptions about what they have had to go through to achieve what they have. We imagine their courage, their bravery, the challenges they have faced and overturned.
But what of mental disability or illness? There are no prosthetics for people who suffer depression, or crippling anxiety. We do not applaud their bravery or courage for their achievements. And it's because their afflictions and battles are invisible. And what we don't see does not exist for many of us.
I am a children's author. I have had over 20 books published in the last 7 years. And I'm well-respected as a newcomer with things to say and ways to say them. But what most people don't know is that I'm battling every day with a depression that is often crippling. It pulls me back to bed to sleep away whole days. It continually attacks my self-confidence and self-esteem. It threatens my marriage, my role as a mother, my relationships, everything.
But does anyone see me, and people like me, as brave? As courageous? Of course not. Because I hide my affliction from most people. I am ashamed and embarrassed and self-conscious about it. Mentioning it is easy. Talking about it is okay, but telling the truth, the whole truth about my condition and what it does to me - impossible.
So I've started this blog because I need to talk. I don't even care if nobody listens to what I have to say, or reads what I have written. I do not want to be an advocate for people with depression. Or a spokesperson, or a font of all knowledge. I just want to talk about what it does to me, to tell the real truth about my struggles and challenges. Perhaps in the hope that I can be a kind of hero too.
If only they made a prosthetic brain.