This post was originally written for The Blurt Foundation and can be found on there website at this link: http://blurtitout.org/2013/11/18/why-opening-up-over-depression-is-a-positive-thing-to-do-by-jo/?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite
We are always told that opening up about having a mental health issue is a good thing to do but with the stigma surrounding mental illness it is understandable that we are reticent to do this. However, I have to say that when two years ago my diagnosis of depression came out into the open in many areas of my life I found there was a positive side to being so open.
A bit of back ground about myself; I have had depression on and off since I was a teenager, I’m now 24. Two years ago I lost my job after my private battle became very public and I had a break down at work. Suddenly everyone knew my big secret. People who I had worked with for over a year, and who didn’t have a clue about my mental health issues, became aware that I was suffering from depression. To my surprise this wasn’t the disaster I thought it would be.
Instead of judgement and avoidance, most of my former colleagues were very supportive. Some even opened up to me about their own personal battles or those of people in their family. I found myself surrounded by people who understood what I was, and had, been going through. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so alone with everything that was going on; instead other people were talking to me about what they felt and how they had moved forward in their lives.
It was also useful for my family who found people discussing and reassuring them that it wasn’t the end of the world. My mother, in particular, found that opening up to people about some of my mental health battles gave her support and not the judgement that she had been expecting. She found that she could also understand more about what I was going through as people explained retrospectively about how they had felt in a way that I was unable to do while going through some of the darkest parts of my depression.
My experiences of opening up about depression were on the whole positive and something I would suggest that everyone should do as you will be surprised at just how many people are going through similar things. My diagnosis came out by accident but in many ways I’m pleased it did, although I wish I had had more control over how it occurred. This is why I encourage people with depression to open up and start a conversation. Hopefully you will get the same positive responses that I had and maybe feel less alone.
I would also like to put in a word about any stigma that you do come across. Although I generally received positive responses, there were some people who couldn’t cope with my illness and who were less than kind to me. For these people I don’t feel angry; I just think it is more an indication about how important it is to be open about mental health and mental illness as a society. If you receive a negative response remind yourself that there are many more people who will be positive towards you and don’t give up on being open.