Every time I write something about my depression issues on this blog — like last night — I end up getting questions from people. All those questions can be boiled down to one topic — Why am I so open about my issues?
The answer can be boiled down to one sentence: I don’t want people to feel like they’re alone.
In May I wrote a post on my regular blog devoted to journalism, writing and all things creative detailing how I’ve been living in silence with depression for nearly a decade if not longer. Not to mention 20 years ago my father was “sick” (that’s how he describes it) with terrible depression that put him in his bedroom in bed with the shades drawn for months. It was incredibly scary for a 16 year old to handle. And then 10 years later I found myself in the doctor’s office getting my own help.
The response to that post was overwhelming. So many people thanked me for talking about my problems so openly since they too were living in silence. I knew how they felt: Like they were alone and people didn’t understand them. Even talking as openly as I do now about depression I feel like people don’t understand me and the issues around depression and mental illness. You can’t tell someone “oh just snap out of it” when they’re dealing with depression, and I, like others, hear it too often.
And that’s the other side of why I talk and write about depression and mental illness. I hope my example can educate people and I can be an advocate for the millions of us who are suffering with some sort of mental health issue. Will I change everyone’s mind? No. But perhaps I can help some people understand better.
I frequently say people can reach out to me whenever they need to (my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org) just to talk. I know how important that is, and that offer still stands. I’ve heard from a lot of people. Some people say I’m brave for expressing myself so openly, but they also are brave for contacting someone they don’t know (or barely know) to talk about their issues.
And as a journalist, I do want to share people’s stories too, if they feel comfortable. If you want to write about your story, drop me a note because you’re free to do so here. Or we can figure out other ways to do so. And I completely understand if someone wants to be anonymous in doing so. I hope some day I can write a book about not just my struggles but the many others who live with depression every day yet have full, healthy, happy lives. It’s a hard battle to get to that place.
Don’t get me wrong: I still have fears about writing about my depression so openly. Will people judge me? How will it affect my career life? Will people not want to hire me because of my depression? Will my current employer treat me differently? Which of my friends will treat me differently? The list of worries is long.
But I do hope I can make some people feel like they’re not alone. We aren’t alone. So many of us deal with these issues every day and have a variety of ways in how we cope. And while we may feel alone in our worst moments, but we’re not.