Somewhere in my early belief system I gathered the idea that in order to be strong, I should carry whatever challenges I would have and keep them to myself. I subconsciously believed that I could work out whatever those challenges would be by myself. Somehow I thought that if I just persevered enough, endured enough, and was good enough that I would be okay…I would make it through. After all, isn’t this life about being tested? Subconsciously I believed that I didn’t need anyone else. I had it figured out–by myself.
How wrong I was. This early belief said that if I just worked hard enough or just acted a certain way, I would not feel the pain, the loneliness, and the deep dark ugly days of depression. It literally put me on an island in a world filled with people but I was practically by myself. Few knew the struggles I was having. My husband knew and a couple of close friends. For years, that is all who knew.
What I did not realize then was the immense power that would come with sharing my story, with sharing my pain, with sharing what depression looks and acts like. Had I known, I think it would not have taken 12 years to get to the root of the monster.
My experience with depression proved that swallowing the real life struggle of turning into someone I knew I really was not actually caused deeper depression and eventually anxiety.
And so, why did I keep quiet? Perhaps I was embarrassed and did not want to be labeled as “mentally ill.” Perhaps it meant that I would be giving up control–because talking would mean that I had not conquered by myself. Perhaps it was because I did not understand why bad things happen to good people. Whatever the reason, I now know that sharing my story in the past 5 years has made a huge difference…for me and for others. For some, it has given them permission to feel. For some it has given them permission to be real. For others it has and is validating their current experience with depression.
I invite you to share a part of your story to someone you trust. If it seems there is no one like that right now for you, pretend there is someone and write them a letter. Be candid and specific. Healing can only begin when a person is willing to come out of hiding and seek the support and resources offered by others. It was this very principle that marked the beginning of the change in me and my experience.
We need each other. If not, God would have put us on our own islands!