, August 5, 2015

I suffer from depression.  I have done since childhood but due to the stigma associated with it, together with my own stubborn 'there is nothing wrong with me' attitude, I couldn't or wouldn't admit it.  But then, something happened.

My confidante saved my life; once I told her, sharing my experience became easier each time I did it

After holding on to a dark, scary secret for over 30 years, a chain of events made me feel as though the world was closing in on me.  I was convinced that this secret, which wasn't mine to keep, would come out and ultimately, destroy my family and life as we knew it.  As my fear escalated and everything was spiralling out of control, in desperation and against my grain, I finally, finally confided in someone.  I reached out and shared my secret; the secret.

In doing so, I felt so many things. Firstly, guilt. Why the hell have I told someone about this heinous abuse of trust and violation of me; this wasn't a salacious story for public consumption, it was my life - it was part of me.  It was something that made me the woman I am.  Next came relief.  The only way to describe it was like an urgent need to go to the toilet and that sensation of sweet release when you finally get to one.

Then came the shame.  I had to face my confidante every day.  She knew what had happened to me.  She knew everything.  She saw me at my most vulnerable; I felt naked - exposed.  I couldn't look her in the eye and 18 months on, I still can't.  Shame.

Regret - I shouldn't have told anyone; I should have continued to keep on keeping on.  Safeguarding this horrific secret that wasn't mine.  My rational mind knew that what happened wasn't my fault.  But my depressed mind didn't.  So my depressed mind regretted exposing 'my' issue; 'my' failing - my dirty little secret.

My confidante saved my life.  Because once I told her, sharing my experience, my feelings, my pain, my misery - my devastation became easier each time I did it.  Therapy saved my life.  My friends - not fair weather ones but genuine bonafide friends saved my life.

You start a conversation and you allow yourself to look back at you in retrospect

When you start a conversation about your mental health and the triggers behind it, things get better.  Not because some therapist waved a magic voodoo stick in your face.  Not because therapy cures it all.  But because you've freed yourself from purgatory.  Keeping you pain, your hurt, your guilt, your shame; your devastation to yourself consumes you.  It eats away at you; changes you, shapes you, moulds you.  Makes you believe untruths about yourself.  Suppresses you and dulls your shine.  Strips you of YOU.  And all you're left with is your pain, hurt, guilt & shame.  It holds you back.  It stops you from developing healthy relationships.  It makes you believe you are worthless and have no value.

You start a conversation and you're creating a portal to accept healthy, positive, real thoughts about yourself.  You allow yourself to look back at you in retrospect, acknowledge what you did wrong, accept the things you had no control over and look at how you'll go about fixing you.  Until you start that conversation, purgatory is your domicile.

Because I started that conversation, dammit, I am getting better

I still feel guilt & shame.  I still struggle each day to leave my house and go to work.  I still have to wear a façade each day, laughing and joking with people to make them think I'm ok.  But because I started that conversation, dammit, I am getting better.  And one day, I will be better.

My confidante, my therapist and the friends I've shared my story with are amazing and I wouldn't be where I am today without them.  They have contributed to my recovery in their own way and for that, I am eternally grateful. 18 months ago, I was on the brink.  I was contemplating taking my own life; no joke, true story - I'd already self harmed for many years.  18 months later, I'm not all cured, I don't burp glitter and rainbows.  I do, however, have hope.  I'm on the path to self improvement.  I am getting better and you can too.  Please confide in someone.  Please tell someone how you're feeling.  Because once you do, you've released yourself from purgatory.

Remember, you are loved.  Someone loves you.  But also remember, you need to love you.  Love yourself enough to reach out and start a conversation.  Love yourself enough to know your mental health isn't your fault.  You deserve to be happy & free.  But you can only achieve that by taking that first step.  It's good to talk.

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