Writing about depression on such a public scale has been an experience for me.
It's been a little awkward soaking up the likes/shares/tweets inspired by my first HuffPost piece because it's re-started the conversation with my parents and family. And I hate that. It's been several years since I've been cagey about the internal battles I'm constantly fighting, but I still don't talk about it with my family or most of my friends. I don't not talk about it, but that doesn't mean I talk about it. It's not a secret from my family -- particularly my parents -- but it's not something that's up for discussion.
It's hard for me to admit to my family that I'm struggling. They know it's often a battle, but I don't know that they understand just how vicious that battle is. And I hate to tell them. Not because they can't handle it (well, they love me so they would handle it regardless of if they could or not) and not because I'm ashamed (well, I am a little), but because the overwhelming dialogue regarding mental health issues still places those who have them among the ranks of the broken and depraved.
Possibly even more now that I'm writing about my mental health issues in such an amplified space, it's embarrassing. I feel like by saying "I'm hurting" in front of family, friends, and more than a few strangers that it's admitting I can't hack it. That I'm less than people who aren't suffering from major depression. It doesn't matter that intellectually I know that's a crock of shit, emotionally I can't help but feel there's something lacking in me. After all, what do I really have to be depressed about?
I know it's a chemical thing. I know that if your neurotransmitters aren't firing well (or at all) then it doesn't matter if you have everything given to you on a golden platter by the most loving family and friends one could ask for -- without those neurotransmitters? You won't be able to feel all the happy or all the glad. If you're as empathetic as I am? That often leads to a downward spiral as you sit there knowing you don't have anything to be depressed about, but still feeling depressed, frustrated you're feeling depressed and on and on and on.
The stigma around mental health issues needs to ease. You're not broken if you suffer from depression. It's okay to say you need help. It's okay to acknowledge and admit that you're not okay, that you're hurting. Doing so doesn't mean that you're less than. In fact, asking for help -- while sometimes the hardest thing -- also shows greater strength than others may know.
The two statements we all need to remember are these: You're not broken, you're not alone.
Have a story about depression that you'd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.