Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

invisible illness

I've had local people, people who know me, tell me, "I never realized depression could be like that," after they read this blog. The reality is, I have no idea who is and who isn't reading my blog. That's okay. That is both the blessing and the curse of writing a blog. The beauty of this comment is these people know me. They are friends, acquaintances or colleagues with whom I frequently share meals, runs, meetings, or work. They see me. They interact with me. They know me. But until they read my blog, they don't know my illness--not my illness, but the illness of depression. It's usually invisible.

Depression is invisible, as the above comment highlights. Surviving with depression requires us to adapt--to act our part expertly. The stigma, shame and myths surrounding mental illness create an environment of illusion. If we can't assimilate, we die. We are all great actors on the stage of life. We have to be, or we will be ostracized. The solitude, separation and loneliness are too high a price to pay to "keep it real." This is not to say I am someone other than the person I project. I am the person you run with, have meals with, and see at meetings. Social, cheerful, humorous, confident--that is me. But it is not all of me. The depression I keep unseen.

You do not see the ugly vacancy within my soul. The colluded, preoccupied, corrupt brain is invisible to you. The financial anxieties, self-care difficulties, and overwhelming fatigue I keep hidden. I have to, or life would be unlivable, lonely and bankrupt. It's not sad. I do not need sympathy. It just is. It's reality.

That's why I'm here writing reality. To make visible the invisible, that's my motivation. To give form to the amorphous, describe the indescribable, and give voice to the voiceless, that's why I write about depression. After reading my blog, perhaps one person will decide to get help. Maybe another will cook a meal for a friend. Maybe someone will donate money for research. Perhaps one will drive a friend to an appointment. Perhaps... I don't know who reads this blog, what impact is has, or if it motivates anyone to take action. Certainly, I hope my experience will enlighten, support and help others. That's always been a goal.

I'm grateful when people tell me my writing has enlightened them, changed their point of view, or made a difference in their life. I humbly appreciate that. However, I never anticipated the difference this blog would make in my own life. Unexpectedly, writing reality has helped me. Writing this blog helps me feel whole. Whole. For a person with depression, there is no better feeling than that.


deepblue said...

Great post. I remember when I told a friend I was starting antidepressants, she replied, "well, if you're depressed, I must be really depressed," I guess insinuating that I didn't seem that depressed to her. But what you said is so true, so much is hidden and unseen. It's so hard for some people to understand.

Anyway, I love reading your blog. I'm glad it helps you - and I'm also glad that it helps me not feel so alone.

getblinkme said...

Hi, my name is Ian, male 30 from Jakarta, Indonesia. I'm also suffering depression and for more than 3 years because of my childhood traumatic experience. I know how it hurts when nobody knows our feeling. Now I'm struggling for recovery by hypnotherapy, and rebuilding my life from zero point.

I was a medical student with bright future and already have a degree in medicine. But my depression getting worse, and I had to stop my medical profession education.

Now I'm trying to be a blogger (I made those blogs to share common knowledge, I'm not ready to tell my story to all around the world) and learning hypnotherapy from my hypnotherapist. I hope I can be a hypnotherapist just like him one day, after my recovery.

I found your blog from entrecard, and I've already bookmarks your blog. Thanks for your posting, and please keep contact. I hope I can share my story one day, just like you do.

Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

AMEN SISTER! I just want to feel whole.

Denise said...

Beautifully and profoundly written, as usual. The unseen parts of the depression experience have been for me the loneliest of times. And you're right.... it just is.... just the nature of the beast.

Anonymous said...

Nice post and you are right about depression being an invisible illness. Whenever I tell people I have depression it is surprising how many respond telling me that they do too or have done in the past. If we were all more open about it then we really could reduce the stigma and guilt so often attached to mental health.

Anonymous said...

A while back a therapist told me I should start reading up on depression because he thought I had it. I didn't even know it.

So, I'm glad people are out there sharing because I have lots to learn. I haven't read long enough to learn anything yet, but I hope to! I'm already starting to recognize and identify with a couple of people.