The first time I admitted my secret, I was in a spiritual meeting with several women friends who nodded while I shared five minutes of my story. Until that morning, I labeled my depression a funk, feeling kind of blue, being down and out, a gloomy mood.
I joked about being stalked by the Zoloft cloud. Laughter is healing, but I wasn’t able to laugh away depression. I kept hearing “You have to feel to heal.”
I was feeling, although not like intended by the quote.
I felt ashamed. I hated being depressed.
My life is too good for this, I thought again and again. In fact, I thought a lot of stuff … God can’t be happy I’m squandering away my time feeling sorry for myself … the situations I blamed for feeling sad are long gone, so get over it … and for goodness sake, get some exercise beyond dragging myself to the shower.
The hardest part was guarding the secret. My husband ignored it because he was afraid. He couldn’t fix depression like he had our squeaky front door. I didn’t let our kids know because what could they do? Friends didn’t need to know. After all, whining wears a relationship out pretty fast.
All this convincing kept me quiet and isolated.
This also happens when you’re drinking five, six, seven drinks every night, knowing you can’t stop. Or you’re married with kids, but fantasizing about a coworker. Or hiding candy to eat alone when you’re already concerned about your weight. All the while, the secret gets bigger and darker and more deadly because we’re slowly dying from it.
We’re in this together … it’s called being human. Find an emotionally safe person and say your secret out loud in front of him/her, just like alcoholics at 12-step meetings say, “I’m an alcoholic.” Though we can’t fix each other, having a loving witness to our pain Helps. Heals. Frees.
When I finally told, most friends said it couldn’t be so. I was the happiest person they knew. I’m grateful they didn’t see me as Eeyore, but also grateful to no longer be hiding out with my secret. I want to actually feel happy, not just fake it.
To get better, are you willing to share your secret?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – The more I admit my depression, the less I feel depressed. I think it works that way with whatever secret we disclose.
On the side: If you think you don’t have anyone to tell, feel free to send me a message @ firstname.lastname@example.org. You might be surprised how good it feels to write it down and share it with someone who cares. Promise it’s just between you, me and the delete key.
Check out more of Jeff’s photography @ http://jeffwatkinsphotography.wordpress.com/.