I remember watching a commercial, years and years ago, about depression.
It was probably advertising some kind of drug but the part I remember was the question it asked:
Who does depression hurt? Everyone
And now I’m realizing how true that is.
I’ve been depressed before. And I wonder now how much it hurt the people around me. How much it hurt them and I didn’t even realize.
But I know it did. It hurt them. Perhaps changed them irrevocably.
Friends who tried to help, and I pushed them away. Or ignored their suggestions.
I wanted to suffer in silence. To hold on to the pain like a shield. To dwell in my misery because it was easier than searching for a way out.
I eventually found a way out. I found light in the darkness. I found myself. I found God.
But there was a lot of misery before that.
If I could do it all over again, I wish I would have gotten help. I wish I would have seen a counsellor. I wish I didn’t stay alone in darkness.
At the time it felt like a weakness to admit to being depressed. It felt wrong to tell people what was going on inside of me. It felt like that would define me forever.
But the truth is, if I had seen someone, I would have gotten through it faster and stronger. I would have had coping mechanism to prevent it from coming back. I would have been able to let it out instead of holding it all inside of me.
I wish our society didn’t think it was wrong to let it be known.
And I wish I had been brave.
I hope the stigma is going away. Although I don’t think it has. I think there is still a fear of coming forward and speaking out. A fear of getting the help that is needed.
And honestly it is everything that is wrong with our society.
Here is what I would say to my younger self, and to people now, if I could:
It’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel pain and darkness and fear. But you don’t have to suffer alone. Ask for help. From friends, from family. And keep asking for help until you get the help you need. And don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to say the words. Don’t be afraid to let people know. Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. Be vulnerable, be real, be you. Even when it’s hard. Because it’s okay, it’s okay to not be okay.