Let's Talk about Depression
Hi guys! Today for the first time, I'm welcoming a guest to the blog, Esme. I'm excited to share her words with you guys-- I couldn't have found a better guest writer if I tried.
A little intro to Esme:
I've followed her for several years on social media, and while I've never met her IRL, I can tell you she's a wonderful person.
She's hilarious and down to earth, but even more importantly, her authenticity and openness about her struggles with mental illness have encouraged me to feel safe opening up about my own struggles.
When I read her posts online, I actually go away feeling better and less alone, which-- to me-- is really saying something. I know you'll feel the same way.
Here's what Esme had to say about de-stigmatizing mental illness:
There was a time when I shied away from talking about my depression-- especially on social media. I was afraid of what people would say to me, but even worse? I was afraid of what people would think of me. Would future employers think I was too unstable to hire? Would future partners think I was too difficult to love? I didn't want to be defined by a diagnosis.
However, as I began to talk more openly about my mental health, I realized that there was a sea of people that were struggling, just like me. And they were silenced by fear. Just like me.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 16.1 million adults in America suffer from major depressive disorder (6.7% of the population). Globally, depression affects around 332 million people (ADAA). These numbers are staggering. Even if you don’t suffer from depression personally, statistically, you know somebody who does suffer from it. If we are all affected in one way or another by depression, then why aren’t we comfortable discussing it?
Despite the improvement in discourse surrounding mental health in our society, there is still a stigma that comes with speaking about your mental illness. We love to talk about how meditating and drinking water makes you feel better, but we log off when our friend tells us she’s so sad she can’t get out of bed in the morning. Mental illness is a complicated and difficult topic to discuss, but we can’t let that stop us. When we stay silent about an issue that is affecting literally millions, we allow room for the stigma to fill the noise. The stigma doesn’t just stop people from speaking about depression, but it also discourages many from seeking treatment.
If we want to help people, we need to encourage conversation about mental health that includes the acknowledgement and understanding of mental illness. When I saw how many people needed me to talk about how I suffered from depression, I stopped being afraid to share my story. Yes, I have received negative comments and people have judged me, and it always hurts. However, people have also messaged me to say that my posts about depression or anxiety made them feel less alone. I’ve even had people tell me that my posts encouraged them to seek treatment. This is why I will never stop raising my voice about depression or any mental illness. Stigma thrives in silence, so we have to start the conversation- even if it’s just one person at a time.
I hope that you all feel safe talking authentically about your struggles, whatever they may be. I hope that you can join the movement in ending the stigma against mental illness. Let's not let fear stop us. We deserve better.
To follow along with Esme online, find her on Twitter here and Instagram here. To follow me on Instragram, find me here.