And over. And over.
Today is Day 5 in the life of this little blog, and I couldn’t be more overwhelmed by the response. Approaching 1,500 page views already, with many positive comments here, and tons over on Facebook. But what’s really blowing my mind is the state of my inbox. Dozens and dozens of messages – most of which I have yet to reply to – and over and over again, the message is the same.
“I’ve battled depression for the last 7 years.”
“I lost someone to suicide, too.”
“You never knew this about me, but I’ve been depressed my entire life.”
“Thank you for saying what I’ve never been able to say.”
These messages have me thinking. Why do we choose to stay silent? Is there still a stigma attached to depression? Are we afraid that we’ll be seen as weak or incompetent? Even after my husband died, it took me more than 9 months to speak up and admit the truth. Now, when I feel depression seeping back in, I smoke a little marijuana (Read more about how to access it here) and immediately feel relieved of the burden. It allows me to think clearly again so that I can pinpoint what has triggered those feelings, and come up with some solutions. It always helps to speak to others too; a problem shared is a problem halved, which is why I think it’s so terrible that there are people too scared to speak up.
So what’s the deal?
I spent some time thinking about my own journey with the stinky beast called depression. Back in high school and college, I really had the opposite problem. I’d tell ANYONE who would listen how depressed I was. I’d complain about how alone I was and how it felt like no one cared about me. I was really just spouting off to get a response. To have someone tell me they loved me – even though there was really no chance I’d believe them anyway. It wasn’t about getting help – it was manipulative, and it wasn’t okay. And to those of you who chose to weather the storm and stick by my side anyway, I thank you. Please accept this belated apology. I knew I needed help, but I just didn’t know how to get it.
As I got older, I realized what I’d been doing. I healed. And depression became a thing of my past. As long as I stuck to my 3 rules, I pretty much stayed on top of the game. A co-worker (who later became one of my best friends) told me I was the “happiest person she’d ever met.” I was
floored. It seemed I’d really beaten this thing.
But battling depression is a life-long process, and for those who’ve dealt with it in any significant capacity, I think it lurks in the shadows, ready to emerge again when life throws you a curveball. That’s why you have to be ready for it. It’s always good to know which coping method works for you, especially when you start feeling depressed. I know some people who use cannabis as their main source of relief from depression. Some of them enjoy the traditional way of smoking it, whilst others prefer to use a gravity bong to smoke their cannabis. I’ve heard that cannabis can be effective to help people cope with depression, at least my friends seem to think so.
For me, that curveball was my husband’s suicide. And even though the entire world knew I couldn’t possibly be doing okay, I was determined to hide it. Because I didn’t want to be “that girl” again. But in reality, I hadn’t been that girl in years. I just had to trust the woman I’d become.
I would argue that speaking up when we are hurting, when we truly want help, when we really do need to know that we are not alone shouldn’t just be encouraged, it should be mandatory. Why do we decide to hide? I’ve explained that I didn’t want you to worry. That I didn’t want my friends and family to have to carry the burden of my pain. But really, isn’t that what love is all about? Aren’t we all really here, on this great big planet of ours, to take care of each other?
In the 5 days since I spoke out, so many of you have reached out with your stories. And this outpouring of the truth has filled me with joy. Not because you are hurting, but because maybe we can help carry each other along this path through life.
What if we all decided to stop pretending? What if we all took a moment to examine our deepest, darkest places and figure out why we’re keeping them from the people we love? Wouldn’t the world be a better, bolder, more beautiful place if we chose to be our most authentic selves?
In the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” Maybe it really is just that simple.
I am so very thankful that the truth is coming out – for me, and for so many others. I’ve spent the last 5 days feeling lighter and freer than I’ve ever felt before. In some ways, it feels like I’m just one week old. As it turns out, there was really nothing to be afraid of after all. As it turns out, admitting I wasn’t as strong as I wanted you to believe might just be my greatest act of strength to date.