I vividly remember the first time I shared that I thought I was depressed. I opened up to a colleague, someone I felt very close to and who I trusted with many vulnerable parts of myself.
I had been struggling, but was (still am at times!) the queen of slapping on a smile and pretending everything was ok.
But I had been pretending for so long. And things were starting to feel unbearable.
So, I shared that I felt like I was depressed.
The reaction I received?
I can still hear her voice in my mind as I type this ... "Saaaaaaar! You're not depressed! You're one of the happiest people I've ever met!!"
I shared some of the details of what I was experiencing; isolation, feelings of worthlessness, exhaustion... and my well intentioned friend reassured me that there was no possible way I was depressed.
I probably just needed a vacation. (Which, yes, was also probably true! But vacation meant being with my thoughts and myself... which was far too painful to imagine!)
I remember feeling regretful and ashamed that I had shared this intimate part of my inner world. So, I convinced myself that like she said, I couldn't possibly be depressed because I was relatively high functioning and was able to smile and perform at work.
Instead of trusting my gut, I continued to slap on a smile and engage in numbing behaviors to get through the day.
A couple of years later I realized that the way I was engaging with myself and my life was destructive. And, that I needed to get some real help to understand my depression and how to cope with it.
And therapy changed my life.
If you've ever experienced it, you know that, to say the least, depression sucks.
It's like a little monster that takes the reigns, convinces you things, steals your energy and your joy.
In light of the alarmingly increasing suicide rates and the highly publicized and tragic deaths last week, it's so important to speak to the very real experiences, pain and suffering that so many of us share.
Depression, anxiety, other mental health concerns... they're painful.
And sharing your experience with your emotional and mental health is vulnerable and extremely brave.
Mental health stigma is alive and well in our society. Because of it we're afraid to share our stories, our experiences, our vulnerabilities. Especially if you've been told that you're not depressed "enough" or sick "enough".
I want to remind you that there's no measuring stick for emotional pain.
Pain. Is. Pain.
And you deserve to be heard and validated in your personal experience with your mental and emotional health.
You are not broken. You are already whole. You are not weak for feeling these feelings. You are resilient for showing up in spite of them.
If you're struggling, remember that depression, like all emotions, comes over us, hangs around for a bit and continues to move on.
It might feel impossible to do so, but connecting with people who can validate you, be with you in your experience and help you understand and meet your needs is so important.
And working with a professional who can support your journey of getting to know yourself and being with and moving through periods of depression can make all the difference.
If someone comes to you and shares that they are depressed, hold space for them. Don't simply try to fix things. Remain available to them. Ask them what they need. Maintain a connection.
It's time we share our stories, so that as a whole, we feel less alone.
Because I see my story in your story. And I see my healing in your healing.
Please know that you aren't alone. And you are worthy of finding healing.
If you are in need of emergent mental health support, text "HOME" to 741471 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you need assistance finding a therapist in your area, please don't hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to help you find the support you are SO deserving of.
I'm a body image and eating disorder therapist based out of Horsham, PA. I specialize in treating binge and emotional eating and helping women stop yo-yo dieting and find a sense of peace within themselves.
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