Selected as winner of the Society for Neuroscience, Ottawa Chapter choice award at the 2014 Brain & Mental Health Art Show.
I have lived in guilty silence for years. I’ve been a hypocrite. Despite constantly encouraging others to voice their feelings, I have rarely done it myself. Instead, I’ve hidden away the deep guilt and great sadness. I don’t dare breathe a word of the profound loneliness, emptiness, and worthlessness that has plagued me. Shamefully, this silence is because I still live in fear; the fear that saying it out loud makes it true. And truthfully, it is often the simplest things that are the most terrifying to say:
“I have depression.”
I’m not the person you think I am. I certainly don’t spend all day sitting on the stairs looking at my hands like in the Cymbalta commercials. I am your friend. Your neighbour. Your coworker. Your sister. Your girlfriend. Your daughter… and I am quietly suffering at the hands of this deadly illness. You see, depression is smart: it is constantly finding ways to tempt you… to seduce you… to reel you in until you don’t know where it ends and you begin. So we go about our days trying to look normal, or maybe even managing a smile from time to time, and we try to ignore the horrible creature that lives in the darkest corner of our minds. But at some point, we feel the need to go live there. To feed and water it. And that is when it takes its opportunity to violate whatever sanity you have left.
For some people, it may be impossible to eliminate once it has had its chance to grow. Depression spreads quickly and plants deep roots in your insecurities and weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be contained and pruned into something manageable. With acknowledgement, acceptance, and a little bravery, what was once a deep dark jungle can be tamed until it is nothing but a simple weed.
But where to start? How do you even begin to explain to someone the kind of pain you’ve been enduring? How could they ever understand? Nothing may ever feel like the right time or the right thing to say, but the important thing is that something is said to get the ball rolling. It is only with this openness and vulnerability that we will actually empower one another to grow.
Remember, it is not about changing who you are, but rather flourishing and being able to embrace even the darkest parts of our minds.