I started this blog because I’m fed up with the bullshit surrounding mental illness.
What compelled me to start writing and blogging was when fashion icon Kate Spade (and later celebrity chef and humanitarian Anthony Bourdain) died of suicide. I was so upset about Ms. Spade’s death. Not only did she take her own life but also she didn’t didn’t seek help because she allegedly thought it would hurt her brand.
I was also pissed. I started pounding on my keyboard and opining a letter to the editor to our local paper, the Caller-Times. Here was a wealthy woman who had the means to seek treatment anywhere in the world – treatment that isn’t always available to the average depressed person but she was afraid of what others would think. The stigma of depression is what killed her and is what has to stop. We have to start talking about depression like it’s the deadly disease it is. It’s no different than diabetes, lupus or even cancer. I don’t mean to be dramatic but it’s not just two celebrities who died. I need to confirm this through Veterans’ Affairs, but 22 veterans die each day by committing suicide. It’s an epidemic, people. One that’s largely ignored and considered taboo.
What I don’t get is it affects 1 in 5 Americans – that’s about 44 million people – yet it’s all still “hush, hush” if someone has more than just the blues. Why does this bother me so much? Because unfortunately I have skin in this dark, ugly game. For more than 15 years I have been fighting depression and anxiety. My exact diagnoses is treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) with generalized anxiety (GA) and social anxiety. I’ve also been diagnosed with Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder or PMDD. It’s a real party.
The worst thing for me about having all these fun acronyms is that for the longest time I didn’t tell anyone, even my family, because of the stigma. People think if you’re depressed or have anxiety that you’re weak. That you have no willpower. That you can’t simply think yourself better, that you’re just lacking fresh air and sunshine. But it’s far from the truth. I’m one of the strongest women I know. It’s hard to go down a deep, dark hole where you feel hopeless and not so much like living anymore. It’s hard admitting you need help, and with that, pull yourself back into the light. It’s nothing but true grit to struggle through each day just to get up and do it again and hope for better. For all of you going through that now – know that I’m here, I understand and that this is a safe place.
I’m Heather. I’m 34 years old, happily (yes, you can be happy and depressed at the same time) married with two children – one girl and one boy. I’m a decent wife, great mother and a pretty good friend. But I do have unruly, misfiring neurons that can make this life pretty hard to lead this time.
Welcome, and thanks for speaking out against the stigma. The shame (even though it’s unjustified) of seeking help just compounds the already bad emotions. I’m sorry that you deal with these issues, and it shows a lot of strength to keep going as much as you have and to have a beautiful family. 🙂