Last year, I wrote a piece for a friend’s website called “The Conversation Around Mental Health Is Long Overdue – and We’re Screwing It Up“. I said we were making two mistakes. The first was that we are focusing too much on celebrity in this conversation. I talked about Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles in particular and highlighted how, even though it’s great that they are seeking help, their circumstances are so far removed from most of us that they cannot be guides for us. The second was that we are treating mental health as a monolith. We are pretending it is just one thing instead of the myriad issues that it is in real life.
At the time, I had planned on following up that piece with more writings on mental health and, especially, depression which is the area of mental health I know best from personal experience. I was hoping to try to have a more productive conversation than the one I was criticizing. Unfortunately, my life got very busy around the same time I wrote that piece. I was still working a job I’ve had for a long time, started a new job, and started taking classes to get my teaching certification. Add taking care of my kid, and I just didn’t have the capacity to write about mental health. I wrote about other things, easier things, instead.
The past couple of weeks, my depression has flared up again. My therapist is calling it a major depressive episode. It’s been a struggle to say the least. I’m doing my best to get healthy again: talking to my doctor, therapist, family and friends, work, and school. The doctor and therapist get it. It’s their job and what they’ve been trained in. Everyone else has been supportive and kind, I’m quite lucky, but those conversations are a lot harder. They’re hard because, outside of the professionals, I have no way of knowing if people know anything about my condition. There is no common baseline of knowledge from which to work. It’s not like cancer where everyone has at least a passing familiarity with biopsies and chemo and such. That has really shown me how important it is, as a society, to have this mental health conversation.
I’m still super busy and struggling with my depression, but I’m going to post about it. I can’t guarantee that what I write will be great, but it will be honest. Hopefully, someone might see themselves in it and realize they aren’t alone. Or someone else might better understand what a loved one is going through. This is going to be difficult for me, so if anyone wants to comment, share, or in any way add to the conversation, please do so. It’ll help me to know it’s worth the effort.