I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was fourteen years old. I’m convinced that I would have been diagnosed and gotten the help that I needed far earlier if I wasn’t so scared and embarrassed to tell anyone about how I was feeling. In fact, it took a crisis for anyone to realize that I was struggling with mental illness and needed immediate, serious help.
We are raised to believe that honesty is the best policy and that it’s important to be true to oneself. The stigma associated with depression, however, negates these messages, cautioning me and others like me against being honest with the world because to the world, who and how we are simply is not good enough. We are shamed into telling our friends that we are going to “the doctor,” rather than going to the psychiatrist, that we are “sick” rather than spending a few days at a mental health clinic, and that we feel “fine” when in reality, we are desperate for help.
A goal of mine is to stop lying to the world about how I feel and what I’m doing to help myself. I don’t want to have to worry that I’ll be deemed weak, needy, or hypersensitive, because that simply isn’t accurate. I’m one of the strongest women I know. I don’t want to worry that others perceive me as “crazy” either, because the only crazy people I know are the ones who think it’s okay to stigmatize those with mental illness. I shouldn’t have to lie in order to protect the people I care about or to make sure I “look good” to potential employers.
I’ve accepted myself for who I am and I can honestly say that I love myself. Why can’t everyone else just accept and love me too?