Not long ago someone messaged me about their depression, and it got me thinking about the public perception of depression. Mental illness in all its forms is something of a societal embarrassment. It’s something that people look at with discomfort; it’s often considered a weakness. Thankfully, there’s more awareness than ever now, but that doesn’t mean that people will embrace those with depression with the same worry and sympathy as those with cancer.
So, because there’s a good chance that nobody ever told you this, let me be the first: it’s not your fault. You’re not weak; you’re not lesser. You have infinite worth and value for just being. That’s it. You are important.
In an effort to shed light on this issue—and maybe give you a little courage to be more open with your own depression (whether here or at home or with your friends)—I’ll share my depression journey with you.
When I Was 12…
It started when I reached puberty. Something about the hormones messed up the delicate chemical balance in my brain (as far as I can gather), and it was a downhill plummet into hell. I do not exaggerate when I say that I was in hell. For about two years (though it’s all blurry).
During this time my parents struggled almost as much as I did. They didn’t want to just throw drugs at the problem because they didn’t want me to be on drugs for the rest of my life. But exercise and therapy weren’t doing the job. So drugs it was, and my dark world opened up a bit. Just enough for me to see that light at the end of the tunnel. It’s there; I promise.
I spent my high school years in prayer. Some days I spent longer on my knees than on my feet. Luckily school always came easily to me, so my grades remained excellent. I had a few friends who knew what was going on, but for the most part I kept my struggle private.
It took a few years for me to find my balance, to discover that being happy is work. The majority of people out there might not know the horror of depression. They might take even moods—that they don’t need medication to give them what their bodies produce naturally—for granted. They might not have dark days. But you—and I—know differently, have seen differently.
Why I’m Sharing
I’d like to change the public view of depression, if only in little ways. I’d like the world to know that depression and mental illness is not a personal failing. I’d like you to know that it’s not a personal failing, not a weakness. The only way to do that is to be open about it, not hide it like a dirty secret. So this is my statement to the world; my journey. And it’s made me a better person.
If you want some tips and tricks on managing, I wrote an article for MormonHub on dealing with depression. Maybe we can all help each other.