Many of you may have read my previous posts on depression on my personal blog or even on the #SAChat blog. Several of you even contacted me – either to send messages of support or tell me about your own struggles with depression or other mental illnesses. I find that even now, almost four months later, I receive messages from people struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses/mental health issues. Often, they are just looking for someone who knows what they’re going through. They want to be able to talk and not have to explain themselves. They want advice and reassurance that it gets better. They want to know they’re not alone.
I can’t emphasize this enough: I am thrilled to be that person. That might seem odd, but I really and truly am. You know why? Because it means that they have someone they can call, and they feel comfortable enough with me for me to be that someone. Thinking back on the times I struggled most with my depression, I know that some of the most comforting moments were when I was able to talk to a good friend of mine who has similar struggles. If I had not had that touchpoint, I can’t be certain I would have made it through as I did.
So please, keep calling, writing, tweeting, Facebooking, just generally reaching out to me – whenever you need it. I’m here. I get it. I’m ready to be your “someone.”
That being said – why aren’t there more “someones” out there? I think it still in large part has to do with the fear of “outing” oneself as depressed, as mentally ill or unwell. Hey, I can’t blame them – I’m 35, and I’m just newly comfortable talking about it to the extent that I do. And when I say “comfortable,” I really mean that I’m comfortable writing about it. I still struggle with the occasional person that says something to me about my posts face-to-face – it’s much easier behind the glare of my computer screen than in person.
This tells me we have a long way to go as a profession.
How are you showing your colleagues that you’re ready to be there for them? That you’re ready to accept them without stigma? How will we fight the need for fear together?