Where do I go from here?

By Adrienne Gurman

August 25, 2015 Photo_PHILO-1566I want to tell you everything. Without hesitation. Without judgment. Without conditions. To spill my words all over the table and onto the walls, in big, bold letters, so there’s no confusion. I’m afraid of what you’ll think, or do, or say. But if I’m to be true to myself, and continue to be the voice of many who also know the destructive powers of depression, I know that I’ll be safe no matter the consequences. In spite of what I’ve liberatingly revealed these past years, I remain standing — and with more than just a dash of dignity.

My absence from blogging over the summer was intentional. Raw fear held me back from sharing the nitty-gritty details of my life with depression. The uncertainties, the weirdness, the out-of-nowhere self-deprecating thoughts cause me to continually question my actions and behaviors. I habitually weigh the pros and cons of describing the not-so-pretty details. So while I do want to tell you everything, the first thing you need to know is that I am afraid. Terrified that when I pull back the curtain and reveal the next tier of how depression seeps into the crevices of my brain, it will scare you away, for good. That’s when I know that I’ve crossed that line — the invisible border that divides my literary comfort zone from The Twilight Zone where distorted reality reigns.

Living with Major Depression and Anxiety is menacing. Four years ago, aware of the risks, I publicly disclosed my diagnosis. Past reveals had garnered unexpected and hurtful reactions from life-long friends, colleagues and family members. They’d made me feel ashamed for having depression, “wasting my money on doctors and prescriptions, as it was all in my head and I should just think happy thoughts.” My unrealistic expectations of being understood and receiving compassion were rarely met. Yet, on the flipside, there were some people who I underestimated in their ability to be kind. I’ve accepted that an individual’s reactions are unpredictable whenever and wherever I talk about my depression and anxiety.

While everyone has something going on that they’re struggling with on some level, it’s obvious that some personal battles are met with nodding heads of “approval” and others are immediately judged negatively. I’ve learned that you just don’t know who will surprise you with a hug and an empathetic anecdote, and who will charge away in the opposite direction as if you’ve just sneezed on them during flu season.

I’m a staunch believer that the more you educate others on what it’s like to have a mental illness, the less terrifying it becomes for everyone. But I’m also making the assumption that there’s a genuine desire for more information. Is it enough to know that depression has the ability to trigger a complete lack of motivation, self-confidence, self-love, self-fulfillment, the desire to socialize, the quest for joy and, at its most severe, the loss of hope? Is that general information satisfactory, or is more needed?

I can choose to tread within the safe perimeters of a swimming pool, go on telling you what you’ve heard before, or I can take a leap into unknown waters — letting you peek into the porthole of my brain, with greater intensity and granular depictions. My throat tightens at the thought of going to that place with you. For once I take the plunge, I’m not so sure it’s possible that I can go back to the safe place I’ve created for myself. It’s petrifying to imagine that there won’t be anyone waiting for me if I panic. My concern is that I will I be left stranded, alone, cold and shivering as a punishment for peeling off another layer, and once again putting my dignity on the line.

I want to tell you everything. It would be magical to possess a secret ingredient to wipe away the stigma of mental illness, but some human beings will never get it. They say they do, but they do not. Certainly I can’t blame them. I’m envious of people who have gone through life without knowing deep depression or crippling anxiety. But if I’m to be disparaged and rejected because of my honesty and openness about my illness, it’s time to take further action, because I deserve better. And so do you.

While one circle in my life gets smaller, there’s another that keeps growing wider. As daunting as it is to remain honest and direct, to stop now would be a disservice to thousands of remarkable people I’ve met along the way – including those who currently live with and manage a mental illness and their family and friends who continue on their journey towards knowledge and understanding.

Depression used to keep me down and I hated myself for being a quitter. I believed I was incapable of seeing things through. My MO was to give up on everything I tried to accomplish. Now’s there’s a new opportunity for me to push through another blockade of fear, defy the wicked lies of depression, stand up to the immobilizing impact of anxiety and, at the same time, tell you all about it.

 

27 responses to “Where do I go from here?”

  1. Monica says:

    Thank you thank you for these words…. Yes bring on more and more as you see fit to do so!!!! I will be waiting for your next blog…I am mom to a son who has struggles as well!!!! It is truly hard to let it all be known and you are right in how much or how little!!!! True true that educating the masses is what’s needed and I do my best to do the same!!!
    Keep being courageous in your journey…. I support you all the way!!!!
    Be blessed
    Monica

  2. Brigid R says:

    I admire you for the courage it takes to reveal your soul to others. By doing so, you help them to understand the depths of despair that accompanies this monster known as depression. I only wish my daughter could have “taken off her mask” as you have. She might have survived her long battle. Thank you for your courage!

  3. Mary H says:

    Your courage, openness and true friendship over the past 5 years have given me the courage to be completely open about my bipolar disorder. If it pushes people away, I didn’t need them in my life anyway. My grandson knows my whole story along with the psychiatrist, meds, etc. This was very beneficial when he developed depression last year. He feels that it is completely normal to go to the doctor and take his meds because he sees how much better he feels. I think that because he knows my suffering with bipolar depression makes it easy for him to talk to me when he is depressed. Please keep on writing. You are help to so many.❤

  4. Ann says:

    This is so inspiring. I know exactly how you feel, how it is to be afraid to reveal the full picture. You give me hope, that I may unveil my whole self, and be as open and honest so that I may help others in our mutual struggle as you have.

  5. Ellen F says:

    These are powerful, beautiful, poignant, hard-hitting & humane words. YOU, in a nutshell! So glad you’re sharing your experience with us again, honey. Thanks for your edifying, educational & moving piece.

  6. Jocelyn S says:

    Thank you for your transparency. I’m glad you have chosen to return to blogging. You are not alone. The vice grip of Depression has it’s hold on me too, and so does her partner in crime and punishment, Anxiety. The depths of pain and suffering I go through are immeasurable at times and the fact that many know little of it is common. We are sisters, my dear, and I applaud you for your courage, your strength, and your process. I honor your sense of knowing yourself and what your best timing is and encourage you to go with your heart. It is beautiful.

  7. Linda says:

    Can totally relate to this article. More education and awareness are so needed! It is not something you can suck up and deal with it!

  8. Brenda says:

    I relate for sure. I heart is heavy as I read this because I relate so much, I empathize with you, and it reminds me of what I’ve gone through for almost 25 years and still struggle with every day. I am glad you have your voice, you inspire me to embrace my fear of rejection by my loved ones to try again by sharing my secret of my mental illness. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Bill says:

    I wish I were able to articulate as well as you.
    Thank you for these words and a glimmer of hope that one day we will not be feared, looked down upon and laughed at because of our illness and need for understanding and compassion.
    God bless you and stay strong.

  10. Deanna R says:

    Good for you! An inspiration for sure! Your honesty and transparency is motivational. I want to do more to eradicate stigma and educate others. I want to do more because I have been given so much. I know the world needs people like me and you and you’ve inspired me simply to do more. Thank you.

  11. Jim B says:

    You’re a blessing to so many! Thank you for revealing so much of your intimate self in such a powerful way. Keep writing! : )

  12. Dee says:

    I know all too well how you feel. I suffer from bipolar depression anxiety PTSD and borderline personality disorder. I have lots a lot of friends along with things I liked to do. I also have family that think oh well its just a part of your Pisces signs traits. I don’t know how and how many times I have to tell them I didn’t want this I didn’t ask for this. I have attempted suicide seven times and the last one should have been the last one but some how they pulled me out of it when I say them I mean doctors nurses etc. At time I wish I didn’t make it out and then I realize I wouldn’t have been able to see my son grow up and to help him with his depression and anxiety. I just wish this didn’t push my friends and family away because of this I feel so alone. I just want to say Thank You for sharing. I hope some day my family will understand.

  13. Eliana Y says:

    Wow great article! So much sincere sharing of the heart… I agree that educating others is very important. A good way to do it might be to explain the differences between depression and regular sadness…explain what you can and can’t control as opposed to somebody with ordinary sadness and how the two are intrinsically different, with different causes.

  14. Toni V. says:

    I used to believe that by talking about depression it somehow made it stronger, made it more real, gave it power over oneself. From reading your blogs, I’ve changed my mind — now I think talking about depression robs it of it’s strength and power. By calling it out – loud and clear – it uncovers it’s ugly face and let’s everyone know what it is and maybe how to deal with it. Thank you Adrienne. You are changing the world one post at a time.

  15. Rami says:

    Adrienne…u spoke my mind my words its amazing how alike the thoughts/reactions are..I can go on on and on repeat the same story but it’s a story for the listener. But my pain, my fear, my horror never leaves me and then I see how people avoid me or the remark it’s all your thinking, keep smiling be happy ..look around ……I never understood how to explain …I don’t know how to do that ..and how I wish I could be lucky like them to never have a taste of this depression..I don’t blame them what do they know …I recently started searching for support groups as I’ve nobody around to talk or listen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *