The unrelenting agony behind the veil of any of our depression struggles are rarely brought to light. You and I may …and I use the word may loosely, we may scrape up the courage to tell a friend or two about our struggle with mental illness. But many a times, the disclosing is left off at the title page. We may confess – “I’m struggling with depression,” or “I’m having anxiety attacks” or “please don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression.” We give out the title of our book. Only, no one, gets to read Chapter 1 or 2, or 3….
We are so troubled by what people may think, or what people may say. And rightfully so at times, because many people simply do not understand, or even try to understand, the challenges that those battling mental illness face. We battle one more symptom when it comes to this illness. It’s called shame… I have recently been so convicted of my shame in talking about the struggle. Because, this is real, the symptoms are real, just as real as they are in any other bodily illness.
If we can talk about the symptoms of illnesses that take our body down, we should be able to do the same with illnesses that plague our mind.
I’ve held back from sharing so many times. Because, I’ve been tirelessly instructed to “get over it” or that I was “imagining things” or that I needed to “eat more.” I was expected to get over my illness promptly, and at the command of the advise giver. And believe me, I really did want to “get over it“…except that I just couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried.
I had two babies to mother and a semester to complete in graduate school at the time and I just could not afford to stay down at will. If anything, the suggestions that were being imposed on me, when I really could not make them happen, started to get suffocating.
When I began to unveil my battle with depression, I was surprised to hear confessions from one person after the other that they have been struggling with the same. And yet, holding back because of shame. I didn’t share my struggle with anyone for a long time. I masked it as best as I could. However, when the struggle seemed endless, we started opening up to a handful of friends. Some of whom are still mentors and friends to this day. Some others, shied away from expressing support and rather expressed opinions.
So, it would be wise to use discretion in deciding between those you want to share your struggle with and those you don’t.
Especially, when you are smack down in the center of the struggle. Because one careless word from the other, will send you further downhill.
And so, I did start sharing. Little did I know, there were many just like me, concealed in the shadows. Painfully comfortable behind the dark veil of depression. Dressing up their everyday like I did. Masking their pain just as convincingly as I did.
Are you ready to open your book? Ready to share your chapter 1? Are you ready to step outside the veil of depression and into the light?
“But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light” (Ephesians 5: 13)