I’m grateful for everyone who has commended my “courage” to open up about depression. But to be honest, there was nothing courageous about it. Truth is, I didn’t realize there was a stigma against depression, so it was in blissful ignorance that I began to write and speak about my experiences.
In a way, it was also exciting. It’s like I’d been granted access into a secret portal, allowing me to explore the depths of a terrifying but fascinating limbo, and I have now emerged to tell the rest of the world about it! I’m now privy to the thought processes of people struggling with depression, how the experience is a lot more complex than a WebMD article suggests… You could say it’s somehow akin to the excitement of returning from an expedition to an exotic new world. Well, an expedition that involved being held captive by ghost pirates or the Chimera. And while I was still in depression, I talked about it because it seemed like the best way to be understood.
As I became increasingly aware of other sufferers’ fear of opening up or seeking help, I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. Did my outspokenness, both while in and out of depression, stem from an excessive need for attention? That is, after all, one of the common accusations heaped on those who do talk about their struggles. Coming across this quote by William Styron (most famously known for writing ‘Sophie’s Choice’) assured me that people can have legitimate reasons for being perfectly fine with talking about their mental struggles:
“You feel shame only when you’ve done something that you’re derelict about. I had enough awareness to know that this was not my fault. I felt laid low. I felt demoralized, and helpless. But I didn’t feel shame. I was pretty enlightened, if I may use that word, from the very beginning. I never made it a secret. I probably bored people by overemphasizing the fact that I was suffering a very severe mental seizure.”
–William Styron (1925-2006)
I write about these depressive episodes also because it helps me to process it all. A crippling cycle of depression would be a waste of time if one didn’t learn and grow from it. And as the positive feedback poured in and as more and more people I know opened up about their secret struggles, I decided I’ll also write for others. I was blessed with a gung-ho naiveté that not all mental health sufferers have, so I’ll exploit it for good.
I’ll end this post by expressing how excited I am to join a wonderful community of bloggers in the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. Launched by A Canvas of the Minds two years ago, it’s been growing and rallying sufferers past and present to encourage others who are struggling, and educate the public so as to replace “myths, misconceptions, and fears” with ” truth, understanding, and acceptance.” So with that…
I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
I encourage present sufferers to open up about your struggles. You don’t have to take it to the Internet, but the people who love you want to understand and will stand by you. If you’re in school, don’t be afraid to ask for help academically as well. If you’re not yet sure you’re going through a mental illness, seek a professional and get a diagnosis. There’s no shame in going for counseling and taking meds. Just as we go to the hospital for a broken arm or appendicitis, our minds deserve the same attention.
Thank you, everyone for your continued support! The conversations I’ve been able to have and new friendships formed as a result of writing here have been an enormous blessing in 2013. Here’s to all the growth that 2014 will bring!