Depression, Mental Health and Cultural Norms

I created this blog to talk about things I didn’t feel like I could talk about as my real life self. The annonimity of writing begind a screen. Maybe someone or many someones elsewhere will read it and feel a connection and not feel so alone for at least that moment. This reminds me of the Sting or The Police song “Message in a Bottle,” right? The character in the song is on a lonely island and sends a message out to the world in the only way they can. A message in a bottle stating how alone they are. Then, unexpectedly, a hundred billion bottles wash up on the shore.

It seems I’m not alone in being alone.

I do love that line. However, I’ve just given up some of my annonimity right there, didn’t I? Using a cultural reference from 1980s America. I’m okay with that. In truth, I hope that this exercise of slowly revealing myself to the public will allow me the confidence to one day reveal my whole self to those in my real life.

I’ve already done so with some people. I have been met with mixed reviews. Some people admit that they too have had struggles with mental health. Though do we all share ALL of our struggles? That is one of the curses and blessings of “invisible” diseases. You get to try to hide what you want to and reveal only what you want to. But you don’t get to see who else is inflicted so you don’t know how common or uncommon your affliction is or which prominent, “successful” people are self-deniers in the name of self shame.

This is walk I’ve walked since I was 20. Although my depression wasn’t so invisible back then and I didn’t know to call it that. I also didn’t know how many of my other family members were afflicted with some type of mental illness. Some of them didn’t know either, but some of them did. I don’t blame them for not sharing. It was their culture.

Please, share what you know about your family’s history of mental illness with your family. It is so important. Don’t hide it.

THERE IS NO SHAME IN BEING INFLICTED WITH MENTAL ILLNESS OR BEING RELATED TO SOMEONE WHO IS.

One more time in case search engines aren’t searching all caps. There is no shame in being inflicted with mental illness or being related to someone who is. The culture I grew up in and live in now has conditioned me to think their is. But it doesn’t have to be that way in the future. Why torture pour souls who have these afflictions, through no fault of their own, with the exponentially troubling burden of shame and secrecy?

Thank you to everyone, big and small, famous and not famous, rich and poor, quiet and loud, who have “come out” about their mental health issues!! You are brave leaders! You are my heros. You are lifting this culture out of a dark age. You will be my inspiration as I slowly get the courage to reveal myself in real life. You are the reason I had the courage to talk to my next of kin about my mental health and our family’s mental health.

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