My depression is legitimate, so why am I ashamed of it?

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People know I have depression.

With hundreds of followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and over 1000 unique visitors to this website since I started it, I think it’s safe to assume that quite a lot of people, in fact, know I have depression. I’ve had panic attacks at work, at church and with friends. I’ve sobbed, I’ve screamed and I’ve spoken up about my struggles when others may have stayed silent. Why then, am I ashamed to simply say, “I can’t make it, my depression is really bad today”?

C’mon Beth, let’s talk about this

As the founder of a support network dedicated to encouraging people to speak honestly and openly about their emotions, grief and battles with mental health, it may be surprising to hear that I am not always honest about how I feel – either with you or myself. Sometimes it seems too big to admit, or I worry that people will judge me.

I can often seem completely fine, and I am aware of that, battling to stay that way. I don’t like to show weakness sometimes – hence why speaking to a counsellor, in confidence, was extremely useful. But maybe you have depression yourself and you won’t be shocked at all but what I am about to say, because you feel the same.

Depression makes me…

Depression makes me tired. Depression makes me sad. It makes me angry for no reason. It makes me shy and scared when I’m usually so confident. It makes me want to crawl into bed and never leave. It makes me doubt myself or feeds me lies that I’m not good enough. Depression stops me doing things that I want to do. Sometimes I can put a brave face on and sometimes I just can’t – however much you or I want me to.

Will you accept my apology?

I wonder if I have let you down recently, frustrated you with inaction or seemed lazy or grumpy. I am so sorry for that – but the thing is, I have depression. And that is not “just an excuse” – it’s legitimate. It’s a diagnosed mental health condition for which I am receiving medical and psychological help.

Those of us with depression – and there are more of us than you realise – are going to need you to cut us some slack. If you roll your eyes when you hear “I’ve got depression”, assuming the person is lazy, just whining, or not ill at all, I hope you might research depression and educate yourself further on the crippling effects of the condition.

I’m banishing the stigma

Depression is no longer a dirty word. I’m tired of thinking it is. I’ve said it – the stigma is smashed, at least on this website. I will no longer feel guilty for – or ashamed of – my depression. Honestly, I’m pretty proud of how well I’m coping after everything I’ve been through – and whatever you’ve been through, you should be proud too.

Having depression doesn’t make you weak – it makes you a fighter; a survivor. There is light in the darkness. Whether you choose to tell others or not, don’t hide your depression from yourself – accept it, embrace it and it will become simply one small part of the great big wonderful human that you are.

As for me, I hope to soon stop taking my anti-depressants, which will in itself be a challenging process. I know that sometimes I’m distant, absent or complicated, but I’m still me and with a little bit of TLC I’ll have a big grin on my face in no time. Thank you for all your love and support, and please share this if it could help other people that you know.

Beth x