Photo by Jaredmoo
Happy New Year, friends. I didn’t exactly go the resolution route this year, but it does seem like a good time to come clean with people, right? So here it goes: I’m not as open and transparent as I appear to be.
Sure, everyone has some secrets, and everyone should. A blog is not a place to spill all, all the time. There are several things about me that only my husband knows, which is the way it should be, I think.
But there are other things that I keep secret for the wrong reasons: I don’t want people to know something about me because I’m embarrassed—it doesn’t fit the picture of me I want to paint. Or maybe it’s something I’d rather be in partial denial about. Sharing it makes it more real—then I have to face it.
When we keep it to ourselves, we face it alone
I know how important it is, though, for people to know they aren’t alone. I was reminded that again last night, when I went out on a limb with this tweet:
I am typically a decisive person. Indecision is a clear sign that I’m inching toward depression. Anyone else have odd red flags like that?
It was the closest I’ve come to openly sharing this truth: I have struggled with depression.
And as soon as I shared it, people rushed in to fill the scary void. Several people responded with their own red flags. Others supported me with care and concern. A few even sent me private messages to reach out with their own struggles and fears about depression.
I immediately knew I needed to start blogging about this part of my past, and how it touches my present.
I’ll start by sharing the bones of my story
I certainly can’t cram it all into one post, but it feels good to at least bring the subject up. I blog about my divorce, my parenting struggles, my complicated feelings about God and faith. Why has depression been the big taboo subject—the one I am most ashamed of, and least able to examine rationally, with hope and even humor?
Maybe we should start a Depression Anonymous group. I’ll go first:
I’m Kristin, and I have struggled with depression. I was probably borderline depressed for many years in my teens and twenties, but after the birth of my second child it hit me full-force. It was like the tectonic plates had been gradually shifting over time, and everything was poised waiting for the one significant hormonal event that would trigger the earthquake. It didn’t help that I was in a lonely, unhappy marriage, or that we moved away from friends and family a year later.
I’ve been taking anti-depressants since 2003, and they’ve made a world of difference. They probably gave me the energy and hope I needed to make other important changes in my life. Once I thought I could taper down and stop taking antidepressants, because I didn’t like the idea of being so dependent on drugs. I quickly discovered, though, what an enormous mistake that would be. I guess I will take them for the rest of my life, if I need to.
I don’t think I’ve really been depressed since the drugs kicked in, but every couple of months or so I get a twinge of some weighty mood or feeling that takes me right back to those darkest days. It’s a really scary feeling, and I have to shake myself as a reminder: I am not there, I am here.
January has been the most difficult month of the year for me, ever since January 2000, when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. But I will face this January with the support of my community, rather than facing it alone.