A few weeks ago, I was motivated by the suicide of Robin Williams to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. I “came out”. Not out of the closet, but a closet.
I finally – confessed is such a weird, strong word — revealed? my own struggles with depression over the last several years. I had thought about it before and had alluded to it before after seeing Ash Beckham’s wonderful TED talk titled We’re All Hiding Something. Let’s Find the Courage to Open Up. I was thinking about it during the annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign this year. And I’ve been more open over the years with friends and family, but I never publicly declared it until a few weeks ago (I mean if it’s on Facebook, it may as well be on the front page, ne?). And the result has been completely unexpected.
I was already over my fear of what people might think before I’d finished writing the post. I have enough amazing people in my life to know that I’d get a lot of love and support (and those who didn’t could easily be shed – why have someone in your life who brings you down?). I worried it may affect people’s perception of me in a professional sphere (especially after posting here on my blog), and in complete honesty, I still do a little bit, but the reaction I got has calmed a lot of those fears. And what I really didn’t expect was just how many people shared their own stories with me and what was even more surprising to me – how much better I have felt since then.
It’s like an anchor that was tied around my heart cut loose almost in an instant. I was back in the current. I felt relief, and I felt understood, and I didn’t feel alone. I felt like I was bobbing on a sea of love. I was amazed at how many people said I’d helped them. And that I was brave (it didn’t feel brave posting what I did; it just felt like it was vital that I did so). I was emotional and raw, but in a good way – for the first time in a long time. In between, I had a birthday and it was the best I’ve had in a while.
And the best part is that I still feel buoyant.
I feel like something shifted. Something huge. I’ve already been doing so much better and the last two years have felt like a vast improvement, but this was the biggest shift since I went on anti-depressants a few years ago. I feel like I can dream again. And I want to start making lists again of what I want to do, be, and achieve. I feel like I can set my sights on more work, more play, more travel, more love, more joy. I feel like I can open my arms again to all life has to offer. And it feels incredible. And it doesn’t feel like a giddy “oh my word I’m AMAZING. I’m CURED!!” kind of fleeting burst of excited, fevered happiness. This feels like deeper contentment. Deeper joy. Deeper peace. And it feels more real.
I never expected anything like this. I wish I’d “come out” sooner, but I know that it happened when it was meant to – I don’t think I would’ve been ready before. But now I feel like I’ve pressed “play” again on my life and can start moving forward. I am ever mindful that I need to be gentle and not overwhelm myself – I like to think I’ve learned that I don’t have to be all or nothing in my thinking or actions. I’m so much more aware of my red flags and of what makes me feel better. I now know that a few bad days doesn’t mean I’m back at square one. And I’m so much more hopeful.
What a gift.
And so I can only say to you, don’t be afraid. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t ready yet, but whatever you’re facing, sometimes just saying how you feel out loud (whether that is “out loud” in a journal, to a counsellor, to a friend, or in a blog post) can snip that anchor and start you on the journey to wellness, I’m so grateful that there were dozens of candles lighting the way for me when I “came out”.
For the first time in a long time, rather than feeling terrified and overwhelmed, I can’t wait to see where the river will take me.