Analogies To Help One Understand Depression And Other Mental Health Conditions

Posted: July 2, 2015

It’s easy to call someone crazy. But you might not even understand what the other person might be going through. Here are 5 analogies, which might help you understand mental health conditions.

It’s very easy to pass judgment on someone who is going to a mental illness. But do we really understand, what it really means to live with it. You really can’t know what it is to be disabled, until you fracture your bone.

To understand, mental illness better, here are some simple analogies.




Being trapped on a trampoline

Up and down and up and down. It sounds like fun and to those watching it seems like you are enjoying yourself and are on it, by choice. The reality is that some force put you on that trampoline and you don’t know how to get off it.

Being on a trampoline seems like fun until you have to do it forever. In healthcare terms an emotional trampoline is a condition called Bipolar or Manic Depressive disorder. Mania is when you go high up and do actually feel on top of the world, capable of achieving anything. And then you come down to a feeling of despair. After which as if you have no control, you just go back up and repeat the whole motion.

At times this trampoline game actually does get fun. It is when someone joins you, a friend or a romantic partner. You do fun, reckless things together and later they go back to normal lives while you hit rock bottom. At the end of the ride it gets tiring for the partner and they choose to leave. If only they could continue to hold our hand and help us keep some balance.

That feeling of ‘I have nothing to wear’

Wardrobes full of clothes, shoes and accessories and still ‘nothing to wear’ is a common feeling. To the outsider (later even to you) it seems like an irrational feeling, but it feels real to you. At that moment, it feels like your world is falling apart.

It is the same for those of us suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. At that moment everything that is going right for us our career, friends, family, home, money, roof over our head and even food seem inconsequential. We are hassled by that one thing that is not going right for us or the anticipation of it.

Anxiety is irrational. So are the ‘I have nothing to wear’ moments. We acknowledge the occurrence of the latter because they happen to more people.

Perpetual PMS

Pre Menstrual Stress makes us women behave strangely i.e. unlike who we are. Sometime we feel extreme sadness or pain. We are easily irritable and angry. And there is no ‘real’ reason i.e. I may not have a reason to be angry with you but I feel angry because of some hormonal fluctuations. We have all grown to understand this phenomenon. Even men try to understand and care for it. But we hate ourselves for what happens to us in those days, because that is not how we are.

Now imagine feeling that way 24×7. 365 days a year. For years together. Top it up with no knowledge of if and when it will end.

Being stuck on a tree ‘Dude just jump, how long will you sit there?’

“Dude you are not the one sitting here. I am scared and growing weaker by the day. I don’t have the courage to jump or face the consequences of my fall.”

Some of us on the tree try everything we can to climb down i.e. medication, therapy, astrology, diet, meditation etc. Some accept the reality and learn to live with the constant feeling of fear and fatigue.

People who love us are there on some days giving us company, play some music, bring our favourite food and generally give us the support we crave. They even help us climb down one branch at a time. But more often than not we are alone shivering in the rains, freezing in the cold and burning in the heat.

Being tied at the waist to someone you hugely dislike

This person you are tied to is a bad person, a bad daughter/son, a bad parent, a bad friend, a bad sibling etc. Not just that this person is also ugly. Their skin has multiple breakouts and their hair has split ends. Their nails are not white enough. This person is unsuccessful. This person doesn’t even try enough. This person has a bleak future. There is no doubt that this person is constantly complaining.

Imagine being tied at the waist to this person. That is what we do when we indulge in self-hate. It helps if you gave us self-loathers a clearer picture, not with praise but with examples, instances and reminders.

Treading on a road full of potholes

Some potholes we avoid, some we jump over, some we fall in but it’s easy to get out. Then sometimes we fall into a deep one, it takes us a while but we eventually do crawl out. Sometimes we fall into a large pit and need you to pull us out.

And then there are times when we are so tired of navigating, falling, crawling out, asking for help that we choose to stay in and wish someone would cover us up with sand.

So, the next time you pass a comment or offer an advice, hope you are sensitive enough to understand that the other person might be in a space, which you might never know.

Depressed teen image via Shutterstock

The power of stories to inspire change made me turn into a storyteller. I write

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