I’m not ready….yet
A year ago at this time I was doing what I had been for years – ending another semester, looking forward to the summer, and thanking God that I had made it through another school year alive. You see, for most of my life I had been managing…strike that…masking…depression and anxiety. No medication, no therapy since college, just maintaining on the belief that I had nothing to be depressed about so feeling depressed was wrong. Two months later, like a balloon that just kept expanding, I finally burst. I had what some like to call a “nervous breakdown.” I could no longer keep pretending my depression was just a figment of my imagination. I made a very serious decision to end it all and was on my way to doing so until a last moment “will to live” decision had me in a hospital bed instead of a coffin. After over a month of both in-and-out-patient therapy, I and my loved ones were forever changed. Now I can say that I am, in fact, managing my depression and anxiety – with medication, therapy, and a lot of love.
That all said, you’ll notice that I haven’t put my name to this post. I was asked by someone who knows my story if I was going to write something, and I responded with “I’m not ready.” I’m not ready because, even with the bravery of those willing to put their face to depression, I still fear the stigma that’s attached to mental illness. I’m not ready because I still have family who wonders “what the hell I have to be depressed about.” I’m not ready because I worry about my employability after someone Googles my name and sees the word depression come up as a result. I’m not ready because, even though almost a year has passed, I’m still just owning the fact that I have depression to myself.
You know me. Some of you actually do know me, but all of you know someone like me, whether it’s closely or merely an acquaintance. I’m living right in front of you, maybe managing, maybe masking, but either way battling every day with an illness that far too many of us are unfairly ashamed of admitting. I am encouraged by those of you willing to stomp out the stigma, and I am damn proud of those of you who are willing to publicly own your mental illness, but I’m not ready…yet.
This is part of our yearly #SACommits series on mental health in Student Affairs. This May, we are exploring what mental illness looks like using different forms of expression – photos, drawings, videos, writing, etc. We hope to create better understanding of what it is like to live with mental illness, in an effort to stomp out stigma. Each week will have a theme -Throughout the lifespan, With Loved Ones, At Work, With Myself. For more information, see the intro post by Kristen Abell. Check out the other posts in this series too! You can also join the conversation by using our unique #SACommits Selfies print outs.