This post has been an incredibly difficult one for me to write. For months, I’ve thought about it and have even written ideas down in my notebook, in my phone, and on post-it notes that get stuffed to the bottom of my purse. Even now, as I’m finally sitting down to write it, I’m thinking about all the other posts I could schedule for tomorrow instead, all of the topics that would be so much easier to write about. Despite all that though, I think it’s important that I write this post, if for no other reason than that I know there are other people out there who it might help, even just as proof that someone else is facing the same thing.
So here it is, without too much preamble and without words to make it sound easier or more socially acceptable: I suffer from depression.
It’s something that I first recognized in myself towards the end of high-school and that, I’m sure, I will never fully stop recognizing no matter how much I wish I could. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy hiding from it, because the word itself scares me and has such a stigma surrounding it. Because to acknowledge it signals weakness for so many people. And because does anyone ever reach a point where they fully have a handle on it?
But all of that is the exact reason why I know it’s so important for me to write about it here (again, because I wrote about depression once before after Robin Williams’ death, without ever acknowledging that I understood on a personal level). Because I know I’ve spent years feeling like I’m the only person out there experiencing it, and I know how much being able to put a label on it and recognize others as dealing with it as well has helped. Because every post or article or slam poem I see circulating online, I know how incredibly difficult that had to be to write, but I also know how much it meant to me.
I’m not here to say that I’ve “beat it” or even that I have tips, because I don’t (if you do though, I’d love to hear them). I’m here because this is a piece of who I am and, for every incredible article or video out there, there are a thousand commenters telling the author that it’s their own fault, that they should smile at themselves in the mirror each morning (because we all know sheer willpower fixes cancer, so why shouldn’t it work on depression too?), or that they must just be weak-willed. It’s 2015, and the overwhelming majority of discourse surrounding mental illness is horrifyingly cruel, and the subject itself so entirely misunderstood.
I started this post tonight with the intent that it would be more useful or, at least, more shareable. Somehow less rambling. But the more I’m staring at the screen debating whether I should even post this, the more I’m realizing that the only way to write this post is how it is right now. That if I’m going to put this out there, it can’t be disguised as anything but what it is: a confession. Because in 2015, we still look at mental illness as something to be hidden.