Every time I give my business card to someone, I think, “Oh my God, what have I done?” On this blog, I admit that I’ve been hospitalized for depression, still deal with thoughts of suicide, and have been a bit rough with my children.
The people I’ve been giving my business card to are usually parents that I know from my son’s school. Some of them have been neighbors. One couple I especially like and would like to get to know better. I was so out of it, I gave each of them my card.
I worry that they’ll be afraid of me, especially of having me around their kids. I fear they’ll misunderstand depression and think it’s contagious or something. Worse, I’m afraid they’ll think I’m weak, for taking medication and for not being able to control my thoughts.
Then I remember. I remember that I’m still the same person they know and (seem to) like. I remember that I write to give a voice to those with depression and anxiety. I present at least one face and experience that is a reminder that it’s okay to suffer from mental illness. I am not alone, neither are the other people who read my blog who deal with mental illness.
Part of my “paying it forward” from the many people who have supported me is to make a stand for those who are suffering and haven’t gotten help yet. I can’t do that if I’m pretending in my real life that I’m someone I’m not.
Depression does not define me, I am not my depression, but I don’t ever want to hide it from anyone. The treatment I find most effective is connection, in being with other people who understand and accept me as I am.
I’ve been telling people in my life about my depression for four years now, and so far not a single person has rejected or ridiculed me for it.
My hope is that being authentic and out-spoken about my depression may encourage others to be open about their experience or at least realize that they’re part of a larger community.
Depression lies, but I and others speak the truth that it’s treatable, and it can get better.
Do you feel comfortable sharing your struggles with people who aren’t close friends or family?