Me too

Hitting the publish button on this blog post will be the scariest thing I've ever done.  

I'm a private person and I'm really good at keeping secrets.  Really good.  But secrets can eat at you, like battery acid slowly dripping into your soul, robbing you of laughter and joy and making the entire world seem like a dark place.  The world isn't a dark place.  I'm ready to trade a few secrets if that means I get a little more laughter and joy. Two big things happened this year that brought me to this place.

The first happened this winter (on my birthday, to be exact), while laying on a table in a doctor's office getting a sonogram.  Something broke.  I broke.  I fell into a million little pieces and this time I couldn't pretend I was fine and that I could put the pieces back together myself.  After a week of severe depression and constant crying, I finally realized I needed help.  I still need help. I found a therapist and only after we had our first appointment did I tell John.  I was too embarrassed, too worried about being judged to tell him beforehand.  But I knew I had to tell him, if only to explain the charge on my credit card.

Then just a few weeks ago, I found a picture online that resonated with me so much, I book marked it and reread it every day for a week.  Just to look at the picture.  Here's a link to the article.  If you don't want to read the whole article, just look at the second picture.  It's a tattoo that when facing the woman, reads "I'm fine".  However, from her perspective (which would be upside down) it reads "save me."  

I read and reread the article and all I could think was 'me too.'  It is the simplest and most eloquent way to describe depression.  Two words.  And outward I'm fine, but the inward cry for help. I finally admitted to myself what I have been denying for so long.

I suffer from depression.

OK Sam, take a deep breath.  It's out there.  Your heart won't stop, you won't be branded or given a scarlet D to wear on your chest.  It will be OK.

Will it be OK?  What if a co-worker somehow stumbles on this and figures out who I am?  Or heaven forbid, what if any of my family read this?  There is still a stigma around mental health issues and that is exactly why I refused to admit it for so long. Will anyone even care?  I don't know.  But I know I suffered in silence because I felt (and sometimes still do) that admitting I was depressed was a weakness (it's not). That it made me a bad wife and mother. That in admitting that flaw, I was opening myself up to a whole host of mental health issues that seem to be passed down through the generations of women in my family like a screwed up family heirloom.  "Here you go Sam! A diagnosis of depression, just for you!"

I'm not looking for attention, sympathy, or anything along those lines.  I'm a work in progress and I'm just trying to lighten my load.  To be happier.  To be happy.  Sometimes I watch John and Winston play and they're having so much fun and there is something that holds me back.  I can see it and feel it and I can't stop it.  I want to stop it. I want to be able to be silly and have fun.

If anything, I hope maybe someone else sees a part of themselves in my struggles.  Someone else goes "me too" and realizes that maybe it's not her fault and she's not failing everyone around her to.  "Me too" can be powerful, especially when you've felt alone and adrift for so long.

I'm also hoping for understanding.  One thing I know firsthand is how hard it is to watch someone with depression.  Before my own experiences, I had a front row seat to some pretty serious depression and other issues in my immediate family.  Maybe I'll explain that later, but suffice to say that I didn't understand.  I was hurt and angry and I tried to understand (although I was pretty young for that anyway) but I couldn't.  Why can't you get out of bed?  Why don't you want to play?  Why do you say nothing for days or weeks on end and then explode?  I get it now.  Maybe I can help someone understand who has been fortunate enough to avoid this for themselves.  A little compassion and understanding goes a long way.

I guess I'm finally ready to take that risk and open myself up.  Maybe sometimes we're meant to be broken down completely. If my birthday had been spent some other way, maybe I never would have found the courage to get help.  Maybe spending time being broken is the only way that I will ever feel whole.  I'm trying to do right by my kids and they deserve a mom who is whole, a mom that can laugh and be silly.  The least I can do is try.

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