Imagine you’d been doing something goofy and – ouch! – had ended up with a broken arm: seriously, there’s nothing humorous about a shattered humerus.
Now, the health professions have standard practices for dealing with fractured limbs, so it ought to be relatively routine to get you fixed up.
You may well end up with a plaster cast, and you’ll probably need to wait around six to eight weeks before it’s all healed up again.
I believe you may also discover the joys of scratching itches with a knitting needle pushed down in the gap between cast and arm.
Expect sympathy from people, along with plenty of felt-tipped-pen graffiti from those who view your cast as an artistic opportunity, and prepare to make adjustments to your everyday life as you realise how tricky it can be, for instance, to take a shower without wetting your plaster.
But you’ll get better.
Contrast this, however, with doing something – perhaps not so goofy – and ending up not with a broken arm, but a broken spirit.
Suddenly things aren’t so straightforward.
You’re unlikely to be whisked off to the emergency room, so might not get any professional help unless you seek it yourself.
Beyond thinking that you’re maybe acting a bit quiet, others have no equivalent of the white plaster cast to know you’re unwell – so unless you have unusually perceptive friends and family, be prepared for little sympathy.
It’s not fair, is it?
Why should the physically-afflicted get all the attention?
What might we learn from this, however, when it comes to dealing with low mood and depression?
Beyond accepting that asking for help can be terribly important, perhaps the principal principle is that healing takes time: it just doesn’t happen overnight.
In the same way that we expect a broken arm to heal as long as we allow it time, we should believe that a period of low mood will generally last for only a finite period, and that we’ll feel better in due course.
But it’s important to be realistic about resilience.
Recovery is absolutely possible, but only Elastic Man bounces back instantly.