It has been said that to know happiness you need to have lived through unhappiness. I suppose this makes sense. I presume it is like saying that to know what warmth is you need to have experienced coldness.
According to the world of statistics, one in five older people are affected by depression, nearly eighty thousand children and young people suffer from severe depression and the number of people aged between fifteen and sixteen with depression has more than doubled between the 1980’s and 2000’s.
As if this data is not shocking enough already, it has also been said that about half of all people with a brain injury are affected by depression within one year of their brain injury.
Personally, I find these figures compelling; to think that so many people are unhappy, suffering alone, and not only that, but that the number of people affected has grown over the past couple of decades, and yet to know that there is still such a great deal of stigmatism surrounding mental health. The whole thing seems to be rather disheartening. It is more than depressing.
Drawing on my own experiences, I can relate to those who have to endure depression, having suffered from it myself. The only way I can start to explain the sensation to someone that has not been through depression themselves, is to say that it is like drowning, except you can see everyone around you breathing. It is that feeling of nothingness, helplessly spiralling out of control and of being completely alone.
As I can recognize what unhappiness is, surely this means I have the capability to feel happiness too. There have only been a few times in my life where I have felt truly happy. The day my baby sister was born was one of those days. The day I finally graduated from University was another.
A few weekends ago saw one more happy day to add to the inventory. I took part in The Colour Run, otherwise known as the Happiest 5k on the Planet. This entailed a mixture of walking, jogging and running along Brighton’s seafront whilst being covered in powdered paint that was thrown at us along the way. The Indian summer had shown its face again, shimmering across the sea, as we ran the length of the water’s edge.
It really was a spectacle, with runners of all ages, from babies being pushed in prams to those of the older generation, all running along with a spring in their step, covered from head to toe in colour and a smile on their face.
So, conceivably, if depression is like drowning with everyone else around you breathing; happiness is like breathing colour, with everyone around you breathing colour too, and that is what The Colour Run was like. Happiness.
Whilst depression is not something you can just snap out of, something I think is of great importance is this: never let the sadness of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.