I’m super excited to announce a guest post and collaboration with another amazing blogger, I have had the opportunity to get to know over the last few months. Katie and I may live across the world from each other, but we are both working hard to bring awareness to mental illness in our own little corners of the earth! I just wanted to thank you Katie for all the hard work you’ve put into this, and how much of a pleasure it has been getting to know you more!
Why I Choose to Speak Openly About my Depression – By Katie
For a long time, depression had me believe that I had to suffer in silence.
It was easier. It meant not ‘bothering’ anyone, which meant me not feeling ‘guilty’ for needing help. Besides, what could anyone do to help me anyway? Everything wrong with me is something I couldn’t really explain anyway.
Depression convinced me – like a devil on my shoulder – that I was abnormal, alone and worthless. In fact, the best way I can describe it to you, is exactly how I believe J.K. Rowling tried to convey her depression through the dementors – life sucking. Everything positive sucked away, leaving you only with darkness.
That is depression.
You could have a great family, a brilliant job, the best friends, a cracking house – it doesn’t matter. When you’re in that darkness, nothing can make you feel like your life will ever be ok again. It’s not that you’re ungrateful for what you do have, that’s ridiculous! It’s just… well, in my experience, you just feel like you’re not good enough, everything is too heavy, and before long, you’re convincing yourself how everyone you love would be better off without you.
So I decided, after almost ten years of living with it – ten years of listening to that ‘devil’ – that I would not keep being silenced. I decided to have faith in humanity; faith in that, for every person that might tell me to ‘grow up’, ‘man up’ or that ‘mental illness is just a phase’ (all of which has been said to me, by the way!), that there might be a person who would turn around and say ‘me too’, or ‘I’m here if you need me’.
I chose to speak openly about my depression because not only was I done being silenced, but I also couldn’t stand the idea that someone might be going through exactly the same thing. I suddenly had this urge to help, to reach out – even if I could only touch one person, it’d be enough.
With that, I started my own blog just over a year ago. I coined it my ‘sanctuary’ and named it so, because I wanted it to become somewhere that would act as a sanctuary – somewhere I could find peace, solace, and retreat. Somewhere that I could just be me. It’s been all that and more! I remember writing my first post on living with depression and the absolute anxiety of not knowing if anyone would read it, and what if they did?! What if they say something horrible, what if I get judged, I can’t cope, should I just delete the blog now before it’s even begun, it’s not too late.
I think I just felt like ‘I’m done being pinned down’. It didn’t mean I was done being scared, I’m still scared now! Every time I write a post about depression or anxiety, I’m petrified. I think my biggest thing has always been caring too much about what other people think, and I think, until I learn how to not care, it’ll always be an issue.
But, and this is a huge and glorious ‘but’! I’m getting so much better at owning my depression – it doesn’t own me. I’m getting so much better at talking to trusted friends or family when I know I’m not ok, at accepting that there will be bad days, and knowing that I can get through it, because I’ve done it before.
I guess I’m beginning to believe in myself for the first time ever, and I owe that ultimately to finding the courage to speak up. Trust me when I say, there is no shame in having a mental illness. Finding your voice can be the biggest middle finger to depression! & do me a favour? Don’t for one second believe that you’re alone in this world. Some of the best people I know, I’ve met through talking about mental health, so don’t be afraid to use your voice to find comfort, to give hope, to make a connection or to share an experience. You are not your illness.