Validation and Judgement

Last week, I asked my husband and best friend if they felt my blog was repetitive. I don’t know what made me ask, but I think I already knew the answer. 

They told me I repeated a lot of material, namely how I spent time at a psychiatric facility. 

I looked over my blog posts and realized they were right. Though it’s pertinent to some of my blogs, I realized I talk about it a lot. 

I ruminated about this for a couple of days, and then it hit me: I talk about my time at The Menninger Clinic so much because a stay at a psychiatric facility must mean I’m really sick, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known I’ve been sick for years, but to others who don’t understand depression, it was validation, at least in my eyes. Depression and anxiety, while debilitating, are invisible illnesses. Unless you have a front-row seat to someone’s struggle, most don’t understand just how debilitating it can be. The stigma and stereotypes about depression have often left me feeling like I was less than, lazy or like I wasn’t trying hard enough, so I imagined others were thinking the same thing. That’s how shitty our society portrays depression (and other mental disorders).

How many of you have been brushed aside, misjudged or been treated badly because of depression? It should not be this way; we deserve better. I shouldn’t have to go to a fancy psychiatric facility for someone to only then believe I’m really sick.

More than 17 million people in the U.S. have depression. Anxiety, which often accompanies depression, is the most common mental disorder, affecting more than 40 million adults. These are not rare conditions. They should be widely understood, and the way to make that happen is to talk about it openly, disintegrating the stigma and educating others.

I know that not everybody needs educating; I’ve noticed that attitudes toward depression vary by generation. The younger generations, who are more sensitive in my opinion, are typically better at accepting the diagnosis and acknowledging depression as a legitimate disease. But the stigma still lurks, and we should still continue to fight it until there are no repercussions of admitting that you have depression. For example, telling your boss you have depression and/or anxiety. Many people keep it under wraps so they’re not judged.

And we have to stop judging ourselves. I don’t know why I would talk about going to a “mental hospital” so much, other than to prove to others that I was really sick, and that’s sad as hell. But maybe I don’t need to convince others — maybe I need to convince myself.

My struggles and pain are real. Depression is real and debilitating at times. Anxiety is real. My feelings are valid. I am not lazy — I hustle to make sure I’m maintaining my mental health. It is a full-time job, and it is exhausting. But still I hustle, because I’m strong and resilient. We all are.

To all of you who are suffering in silence or who don’t feel validated in their illness, I’m sorry. I know you’re hurting. I know it’s frustrating to fight antiquated ideas about depression. I know it’s more than the “blues.” I see you.

Keep fighting. You don’t have to prove a damned thing.

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