Depression: A Secret No More
“…as soon as you have a secret, something about you that you are ashamed to have others find out, you have given other people the power to hurt you by exposing you.” – Ayelet Waldman
I used to have the secret that my father was running from the law. He got arrested for cheating at gambling when I was 14 years old, and then he fled the country when he was supposed to go on trial. He first got arrested shortly after I was born for embezzling money from a company he worked for. I think the only time in my life he was legally in the country was when he served time for assault with a deadly weapon when he shot a drug dealer who owed him money.
It was a lot of pressure for me to keep his presence here a secret. I remember once meeting him at a hotel and fearing I had the wrong one, I asked the person behind the desk whether my father was registered there. I asked for him by his real name, and the person said there was no guest by that name. I felt embarrassed and terrified about what to do next. I sat in the lobby, and when my father came to meet me, I told him what happened. He looked furious and glanced at the hotel employee but thankfully said nothing. I was scared for a long time that my father would get arrested because of my mistake. I was probably about 16 years old at the time.
Some secrets are kind of fun to keep, like when you’re pregnant but less than 12 weeks pregnant. It’s something special for you and your spouse to know that no one else knows. Of course, I totally couldn’t wait to tell people. I think I waited maybe 5 weeks to tell people during my first pregnancy, and maybe 7 weeks during my second pregnancy.
I tell my son that things you’re not telling right now but are planning to tell soon aren’t secrets, they’re surprises, like the presents we buy for his friends' birthdays.
Real secrets are things that eat us up inside, that tell us that something is wrong with us. My worst secret was when I really deeply believed that my family would be better off without me. I started making a mental shopping list of what to buy before trying to commit suicide. I even chose a place. Luckily, I told my husband, and he and a psychiatrist I had recently started seeing got me admitted me to the psych ward at a local hospital.
I often read tweets about people who are struggling with their depression and sadly, many tweets about people’s relatives and neighbors who recently committed suicide.
I watched Kevin Breel’s Ted Talk “Confessions of a Depressed Comic,” and I agree wholeheartedly that we need to change our culture so that no one ever has feel that they need to keep their depression a secret.
I think The Bloggess has done a lot to de-stigmatize depression and anxiety. Wil Wheaton and Stephen Fry have also written about their own experiences with depression.
There’s a Twitter hashtag #depressionlies where people write about their fight against depression, and other people offer their support.
I’m going to keep writing and saying it openly, I suffer from depression. What will you do to help yourself or other people know that they don’t need to keep their depression a secret?
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