So in a previous post, I made reference to an empowering experience over Christmas: I opened up to my in-laws about my disorder. Since my diagnosis 5 years prior, they were unaware of my suffering. Very few people were. Why? Short answer is ‘stigma’. But I’ve since crushed my stigma and am no longer afraid to talk about it – depression. On the verge of launching my book, it was time to have a heart-to-heart with my family.
Christmas night, we were all sitting in the living room opening the last round of gifts. I got up and retrieved four gift bags which I distributed to each of my family members. They were gleefully surprised, but a tad reserved – expecting it to be a joke of some kind. I instructed them to not open the bags. I pulled out a piece of paper from my pocket – a letter which I had written the night before. I announced that I had something I would like to share with everyone. Confusion and curiosity filled the room.
I read the letter aloud and it wasn’t long before emotions began to flow. Probably the most difficult thing I read was apologizing for not reaching out during a time in my life when I needed them the most.
Here is an excerpt from my letter: This is because for many years – even long before becoming part of this family – I have been struggling and hurting, mentally. And five years ago, I broke. I reached my breaking point. It was the most difficult time of my life. I want to tell you that I am so sorry for not reaching out to you during this time – to the people in my life I value and love unconditionally. I don’t have a reason why. All I know is that, at the time, I couldn’t.
When I read this, I unexpectedly felt a tremendous weight lift from my shoulders. I felt liberated. After I read my letter, everyone opened their gifts and found a manuscript of my book. I announced that the book represents my life’s purpose and from this point onward, I wanted them to share in my healing and be a part of my journey that was about to unfold in the New Year.
This was the highlight of my Christmas.
If there is anything you can take from this is that there is tremendous power in opening up to the people in your life that you love and cherish. And when you announce your goal(s) to them (which in my case was publishing my book and helping others), it creates tremendous leverage – wind in your sails, so to speak –propelling you toward achieving them.
Open up and talk about it. Reach out to the people who want to help you and let them in. Allow them to help you build leverage in your journey toward healing in this disorder.