November 12, 2012

"Coming Out" with Mental Illness

                Yesterday I decided that it was time to put my money where my mouth was and tell people about my mental illness.  On facebook.  For the whole world to see.  This is what I wrote:

My Dear Friends,
There's something I'd like to tell you. It's been a little over a year since I checked myself into the local psych ward for a three day stay. Not a lot of you knew about that. I suffer from depression and anxiety and have since I was 12 or 13. It's a big part of my life and a big part of who I am and where I am today. And I've decided it's time to be frank about it. It's not a result of sin. It's not a result of lack of will power or laziness. I can't just snap out of it. It is a result of my brain chemistry, and I am no longer ashamed of my brain chemistry. I am not ashamed of my trials. If you think less of me now that you know this about me, that's your loss. But I want you to know about it so you can ask questions, so we can get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness, and so maybe I can even help some of you with similar struggles. Talk to me about it. Ask me questions. I've probably heard them before. This is me making lemonade with the most bitter lemon I've ever been handed. A wise woman once said, “If you can claim something, it has far less power over you.” Well I am claiming this. I am claiming my mental illness. I hope you understand.
With Love,

And it’s absolutely true- “If you can claim something, it has far less power over you!”  I’m a little stunned by the outpouring of love and support.  At the last count, I had 59 “likes”, 28 comments, five private messages, and a text message.  People care.  And I’m so grateful I gave them the opportunity to do so.  And I’m going to keep owning depression!  You hear that, depression?!  YOU DON’T OWN ME!  I’M FREE!!!

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Thank you for coming. I hope you get something out of this. I hope you learn about yourself. I hope you get help if you need it or give it if you can.