I’m going to admit something to you guys that I really don’t want to. I don’t really want to write this post, I don’t really want to talk about this, but you know what? I’m going to.
Yesterday morning I woke up early in order to go into our local mental services department. I sat in a waiting room with people who were clearly more unwell than me (not that there’s any shame in that), and awkwardly stared at the folks checking in. Besides a really cute blonde girl that sat down behind me at some point, I was probably the youngest one there. My name was called, I had to go into an office where a lady named Stephanie asked me about my depression and anxiety. I had to be honest about my eating habits, or lack thereof, tell her that I do sometimes think about killing myself, and that on occasion the misery gets so bad, I started to self-harm. She was plenty nice about it, but admitting all that to a total stranger was really difficult for me.
And here I used to be the assistant manager of a well respected tea shop. Here I am trying to start my own coaching business for youth, and trying to have a proper relationship.
But here I am talking to some lady named Stephanie about how I get so depressed sometimes that I do nothing but sleep because I can’t function when I get out of bed.
It’s obvious. I’ve been depressed, or some form of it, for the vast majority of my life. It’s more noticeable on some occasions than others, but it’s predominantly always there. Chances are, the heightened levels of my anxiety have just escalated to such a massive degree because my depression has gone unchecked for so long.
I know I’ve been hugely depressed before, and I could accept that. Somehow, however, realizing that it’s more a chronic issue than I thought it was has been really difficult for me.
As much as I know it’s okay, and there’s nothing wrong with me, I feel ashamed of the whole thing.
But that’s the point, and that’s why I’m writing this. If I had gotten sick and had to see a doctor about it, I wouldn’t feel so embarrassed. I may feel a little bad about not showering for five days, and I might shove my boyfriend off because I look too trashy, but I could admit that I was sick without a second thought. And then I would shrug it off, so would everyone else, and no one would think twice about it.
But suddenly I have depression, and I’m torn between wanting to be honest and tell my friends about it, or to just avoid it and tell them that everything’s fine. Should I risk bringing down the mood, or is lying to the people I care about a bigger sin?
I’m a straightforward person. Being vulnerable with people is hard for me, but I’ll tell anyone just about anything about myself. I’m an open book in that way. And yet, I’m scared to tell people that I struggle with depression? It’s as though I feel like it’s some kind of gross secret I have that I don’t want anyone to know about.
And I don’t want that.
I don’t want my depression or anxiety to be something I’m ashamed of. I don’t want to feel like it’s a dirty secret I’m going to have to hide from people. I don’t want it to be something that embarrasses me, I want it to be something that empowers me.
So maybe, if I start by shoving my own feelings of shame aside, other people around me can feel okay to do the same. We can start talking about this, being more open, communicating with each other instead of buying into the stigma and humiliation we feel. We can start looking at mental health in the same way we perceive physical health, and we wouldn’t have to feel so terrible about ourselves for needing extra care in some areas.
Yes, I sat in mental health yesterday. And today I have to go in and see my doctor and try to convince him to do help me out because I’m not just sad. I’ll probably have to live my life with bad days and good days, medication, counselors, appointments, and people who tell me, ‘your life isn’t so bad, what do you have to feel bad about?’
So this is me, taking the first steps. I revealed my ‘dirty little secret.’ I’ve bared all. Got nothing to hide now. Take it or leave it, this is who I am. Entrepreneur, writer, artist, girlfriend – living on medication, occasional self-harmer, someone struggling with huge depression and anxiety. Yeah.
Basically, let’s all cut the junk when it comes to mental health, and learn to be completely okay with ourselves. And, if that’s the case, let me ask you this: if that’s all me, who are you, and what stigmas are you buying into about yourself?