This is an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote when I was 16:
I’m not sure what to write. A lot has happened, but I don’t feel like writing about all that. I can write about that tomorrow or something. Tonight I want to write about how I feel.
How I feel. As if it’s as simple as 2 sentences. Hardly. I feel lonely. I mean, I’ve got all these friends, and yet, I’m alone. And I’m lonely. I’m not happy. I feel this overwhelming weight on my heart. I’m not sure what it is, I just know it aches. What am I doing? I don’t know anymore. I don’t know how to be happy. Just plain old happy. I don’t remember what it feels like. Please someone, anyone, show me what it feels like to be happy. Please. I feel like I’m losing what mental energy I have left by being sad. But I can’t stop.
I began suffering from depression roughly around age 13 – 14. No, I wasn’t depressed all the time – it came in bouts. But I was depressed enough that people noticed, my friends noticed, my parents noticed. But no one did anything.
I used to be pretty pissed off with my parents for this – how do you let someone you love suffer like that and not do something? But this is such a limited view of the world as it was and is – it was only my world, not theirs. And a limited view of mine, at that. I can’t imagine the fear they had in trying to figure out how to help me. And was it their fault? Surely if they tried to seek help from someone else, the question hanging in the air would be how did they fuck me up so badly that they couldn’t fix it?
And even beyond their own issues with seeking help for me, did they worry what my friends, my school and teachers would say or how they would treat me if they knew I had to get help? Who’s to say that my childhood and teenage years would have been happier if I had gotten help but everyone had known about it?
What is it about our culture that makes us so afraid of mental illness that we shame anyone who has it, anyone who is related to someone who has it? How will parents ever be able to help their children seek care for an illness that is not anyone’s fault if they are too afraid someone will question their ability as parents? I have made no secret of the fact that I suffer from depression on this blog, but it has not been an easy choice for me to make. I do it because I hope that maybe, just maybe, there is one other person out there who will gain strength from my story. Maybe shedding some light on this illness and others will teach people that we can do better than shame someone out of their sanity. Maybe one more person will realize that it’s okay, that it’s normal, that it’s healthy to seek help for something over which they have no control.
It’s time to take our sanity back. Unashamedly.