Had a conversation yesterday with a colleague who is working on the mental health awareness file. We talked about my article that was profiled in our newsletter last December (see below), as well as other initiatives. I made a point during our conversation that I wanted to highlight in this post: the empowering and liberating feelings from opening up and talking about depression.
Indeed, it is a tremendously difficult thing to do. It took me nearly five years to get to where I am now in my healing – in a place where I am no longer afraid or limited by the perceived ‘stigma’ that surrounds mental illness. I am open about my disorder and my experiences in healing. I am excited to talk about it and to anyone.
But my journey to breaking the shackles was long and difficult: It was hard for me to write the letter I sent to my sister in which I sought reconciliation for being so distant in our relationship; most recently, over Christmas, I opened up to my in-laws about my disorder –nearly five years after being diagnosed; and words cannot fully capture how difficult it was for me the night I opened up to my kids about it. In each of these experiences, I was petrified to put myself out there because it meant I had to allow myself to be exposed for something that I spent years hiding. It meant I had to be vulnerable.
But I was unprepared for what happened next: I felt free! I didn’t feel weak anymore, but rather, I grew empowered in my disorder. For the first time in my healing journey, I felt that I had complete control of my destiny. There was nothing more to hide. I could be me. The real me.
“Freedom”, I believe, is the ultimate consequence of opening up and talking about mental illness. By allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to step out and talk about it, I believe will empower others to find the courage and do the same. With enough momentum, I know we can crush the perceived stigma!