Today I would like to bring to you a post from a woman who I consider to be one of the funniest people in the blogosphere. I have followed her forever and her outrageous writing is both entertaining and so relatable. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess (damn, I have always been jealous of that name), took a step last night towards bringing attention to an issue very close to my heart and put herself out there to help lift the stigma.
Depression. Yeh, even the funny girl can suffer. Till now, it has been privately. But now she is taking it to the internet and maybe, just maybe, this campaign will show us how many of us are touched by this illness. If not ourselves, but people we love. And they are not alone.
Mental illness. Even reading those words causes some to shudder and run for cover. No matter how evolved we think we have become as a society, no matter how many anti-depressants and anti-anxieties are doled out like candy. No matter how many commercials – some touching, some ridiculous (a certain wind up doll comes to mind), it never ceases to amaze me how people will still speak in hushed tones about depression as if it were the plague. As if the mere mention of the word will open you up for susceptibility.
When you suffer from a physical illness, you are considered brave. When you fight a mental illness many consider you weak.
Wrong… you are the strongest, bravest fighter of them all.
Here is an excerpt from her post. You can read the whole thing here. Twitter has exploded with the hashtag #silverribbons. This is proof that so many fight this fight alone. Maybe Jenny can change that. And we can help her.
I self-harm. I don’t do it all the time and it’s not enough to put me into an institution or threaten my well-being, but it’s enough to make it frightening to live in my body sometimes. I’m far from suicidal. I do it to self-sooth, because the physical pain distracts me from the mental pain. It’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who don’t understand impulse control disorder. Honestly, I find it hard to understand it to myself and I’m working my ass off to fix it now before my daughter is old enough to see the things I don’t want her to see. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I am safe. My disorder is fairly mild and is becoming more controlled. I’m in therapy and I’m not in danger. I avoid triggers and I’ve found therapies and drugs that are helping. I’m getting better. But I sort of feel like I can’t completely heal from this without being honest about it. So here it is. Judge me or not, I am the same person I was before. And so are you. And chances are that many of your friends, family and coworkers are dealing with things like this. Things that are killing them a little inside. Things that kill people who don’t get help. Silent, bloody battles that end with secret victors who can’t celebrate without shame. I hope that this post changes this somehow. I hope that you feel safe enough to be honest about the things you are the most ashamed of. I hope you have someone there telling you “It’s okay. You’re still the same person to me.”
I hope one day I see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle and that they celebrate the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.
I hope one day to be better and I’m pretty sure I will be. I hope one day I live in a world where the personal fight for mental stability is viewed with pride and public cheers instead of shame. I hope it for you too.
But until then, it starts slowly.
To Jenny… the bravest one of all. May your dream come true, and may we all help you realize them.