I was at work today and I spoke to my boss about depression and told her how I usually write articles about it as well. She looked at me and asked ,”So, how do you get through it?”
Stopping in my tracks, the sounds of strangers around me, I freeze. I have no clue how to answer this question because it isn’t a question that takes little thought.
I can’t just say to her, “Well, I take anti-depressants and they keep me well,” even though that is of course one of the many solutions I use to cope and to be honest with you, it is one of the main reasons I am alive today. I can’t tell her the truth because I have a fear that she’ll judge me.
Mental health has one of the biggest stigmas and even though some people have negative things to say about medication, according to statistics, “12.7 percent of Americans age 12 or older reported taking an antidepressant within the last month…reports of 22 percent of people taking them for at least a decade.”
There may be stigma, but the statistics don’t lie and they tell us that many people need antidepressant medication to function.
I actually feel like myself when I take my medication and I have the will to live.
Knowing all this, however, when my boss asked me how I survive with depression every day, I gave her a surface answer, the answer that society won’t look down on and finds acceptable. I just said, “I get through it by being as positive as I can and by protecting my peace and happiness. I get by it for fighting for myself.” But what I really wanted to say was, “Well, damn it, I take medication as well.”
And if she ever asked what my medicine does, I would tell her they help my brain not to interpret every negative situation intensely and most importantly, they help me from not having thoughts of suicide. But I can’t. To save face and protect myself from judgment, I give her surface answers and surface impressions of my condition and my life and I wish every day that I didn’t have to do that.
I wish when someone asked me where I go to every Thursday and why I walk around with a thick book my bag, I could just tell them I go to DBT so I have skills that help with my emotions. I wish I didn’t have someone once in every blue moon say ignorant shit like, “Black people don’t go to therapy.” Or, “You just have to be strong.”
I wish I didn’t have to hide my truth, my pain, my journey, my story, my life.
I’m a confident and strong woman, but I know I am like many others who feel crippled by the weight of hiding the fact that they live with a mental illness.
It is like the dirty little secret we carry but seldom shares and it shouldn’t be this way. We should live our lives being accepting of others and whatever condition they have and if you are tired of constantly hiding depression or any other mental illness you may have, know that you are not alone and that eventually you will gain the strength to overlook others opinions about you and what you haven’t chose to endure in life.
Know that your mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and in some way or another it can serve as good for others, or even save a life.
I know it’s tough and I’m sorry you have had to hide like I have, for far too long.
But damn it, I have depression and I just wish I didn’t have to live every day like I don’t.