Let’s Talk About Independence

In less than a month Scotland decides on whether we want to remain part of the United Kingdom or become our own independent country. This has sparked a lot of heated debates. This has also caused many arguments amongst people.

The Independence Referendum seems to also be the only time we’ve become more than comfortable asking people what way they’re voting and then bullying them for it. To be perfectly honest, it’s showing us in a horrible light. The way you are voting is entirely between yourself and the ballot paper.

I have no doubt that both the Yes Campaign and Better Together believe that they’re doing what’s right for Scotland’s future. I don’t believe anyone has taken a side on this debate thinking it’ll harm us. That being said, we’re all very quick to judge someone with opposing views to our own and in some situations doing so in a very aggressive manner. We’ve become forcing our beliefs on other people, whether it be oil reserves or military concerns or this blasted currency union talk. All of this points are valid and are good points to make, on both sides of the debate, but the hate and the anger going on between voters is ridiculous.

Just yesterday I was on my phone on the train, minding my own business, and I “liked” a Better Together picture on Facebook. The man next to me said something along the lines of “Figures you’d be unionist scum.” I was incredibly angry but decided not to get into some kind of debate about it. My opinions are my own. The way I feel is the way I feel. A random person has no right to call me out on a personal decision, nor does my friend or a member of my family.

I work in the tourism sector. My job is to tell people of Scotland’s history and our fantastic and amazing accomplishments. We are a tiny country that has produced things countries 5x our size can only dream of. I’m about to embark on a Scottish History and Archaeology degree. To be called “scum” by a man on the train who has never met me in his life sums up the entire reason I’ll be glad when the referendum is over, regardless of the decision that’s made.

Scotland’s reaction to independence makes me embarrassed to be Scottish.

Personal Demons

Your childhood heroes passing is something you’re aware will happen. Human life has an expiration date. However, I didn’t expect to be hearing of the death of Robin Williams for another couple of decades yet, at which point I’d probably be explaining to kids who he was.

I definitely didn’t expect to see it on my Facebook feed at 1am and hoping that it was from one of those fake news story websites.

I tweeted last night that if you were to take only one thing from his passing let it be that we never truly know the demons others face as smiles and comedy are deceptive. Amber replied saying I should try and write a blog post on that very topic so here goes. I’ve mentioned on plenty of occasions how soul destroying depression is. Robin Williams death highlights how misinformed many people still are on the topic. Depression has a fatality rate that no textbook on the subject will tell you. We are not told of this fatality rate because suicide is viewed as a self inflicted situation and not a side effect of depression. The people that view it as something self inflicted and “selfish” are those who tend to never have had experience with depression personally.

The reason I describe depression as having “demons” is because that’s the only accurate description I can think of. It feels like Satan himself has assigned you his worst minions to torment you relentlessly. It is not simply “feeling sad”. That’s why it makes me angry when I see things saying that Robin Williams was selfish or “what a waste of talent”. That last one in particular angers me because we are talking about human life here, not an entertainment robot that exists solely to make you laugh.

I don’t know what he felt in the days, months or years leading up to his decision to take his own life. Nobody will ever know. But let me tell you this. Mrs Doubtfire did not commit suicide, the genie from Aladdin did not commit suicide, Teddy Roosevelt did not commit suicide. He is not his characters. He was a man who, no matter what he did as a job, had an illness and believed that killing himself was his only escape from the depression that plagued his daily existence. And, if I speak purely from my experience and not at all from his, when I felt like that was my only option I didn’t view it as selfish. I felt like I’d be helping those around me as I’d be removing a burden from them.

God speed, Robin Williams. I hope you are finally at peace.

What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” – John Green.

100 Happy Days

So, Steam is down for routine maintenance so I’m left with nothing to do so decided to write a post I’ve been thinking about for a very long time.

 If you are my facebook friend, or you follow me on instagram you may remember that I took part in the 100 Happy Days challenge earlier this year. It’s something I found to be incredibly helpful and grounding, if anything. However it’s come to my attention that many people view this to be “shallow” from what I’ve seen on facebook and from what people have said to me.

The people behind this mainly are those who claim anxiety and depression as shields to hide behind. That may seem incredibly harsh of me to word it like that, but having been in that mindset I know it all too well. A joke offends you because it’s about mental health and you have a mental health issue. Someone who doesn’t have much experience with your specific illness so they must be “ignorant” of the entire mental health spectrum. The 100 Happy Days challenge is “shallow” because it’s claiming that you can just choose to be happy when that’s not the case regarding depression (amongst other illnesses). 

Things like the 100 Happy Days challenge, or the “3 positive things a day status” that lasts a week and you nominate people to do it are not a “Screw you, we’ve found the cure to depression”. They are a way of reminding yourself about the positive things in life and the things that you have that are good in your life.

Also, these things are not solely for people with mental health problems. These are things that have been developed in general to encourage positivity in life when all too often here in the UK – and I’m sure many other “first world” countries – lack. Someone asks you how you are and if you’re doing well you say “Well, I’m not bad.” 

Having a look back at my 100 happy days challenge, some of them were incredibly basic things. My bed, for example, when I wasn’t feeling very well. Having coffee with a friend. Things that are very often taken for granted as being part of our daily routines to the point we forget just how blessed we are. 

Depression is hideous. It’s black and it’s pain and it’s numbness all at the same time and it does not make sense. However, this challenge and many like it are not trying to belittle what you feel or the intensity in which you feel it. 

Story time, because we all know I love telling stories. With my depression has come memory loss. I don’t think I could tell you a single thing I did in the year 2012 bar the fact I went on holiday to the USA. 2012 was a black year for me. It was when I gave myself the scars that are permanently on my body. It was the year I had decided on several occasions that life was not worth living anymore and it was the year I told my mother that she was selfish for having me because I didn’t ask to be born into this world and I was needlessly suffering because of that. I had given up completely and it was the worst thing I think I’ve ever experienced, and if you know some of my back story that’ll give you an indication of how bad this was. However, I wish I’d had something like 100 Happy Days to focus on in 2012. Because I got so wrapped up in my own pain and suffering that I was convinced nobody had felt like I had in the history of ever and that I had nothing good going for me. I was ill and I was stubborn and I wouldn’t listen to anyone. I wish I’d had something that forced me to look into every single day and find something good about it. Even if it had been 100 different pictures of my bed. I’m not saying that would have cured my depression, far from it. It may have however lead me sooner to my epiphany that I needed serious help before it actually happened considering it happened lying in a hospital bed in A&E explaining to a doctor that yes I did want to kill myself but at the same time I really did not want to kill myself and I needed help.

And you know, maybe it wouldn’t have helped. I’ll never know. But I know for one thing that it is not shallow or selfish to want to find happiness in your life. You can’t magically flick a switch and be like “hey, I’m going to be happy today” but in the same way you can’t sit in the dark your whole life acting like because you can’t see the issue means it doesn’t exist.