I, myself, was shocked to learn that not only was my doctor on the same course of anti – depressants as I was, but that my tutor and friend, a PhD graduate and one of the strongest people in my eyes, was a long – term sufferer of severe depression herself. Yes, as difficult as it may be to believe, contrary to popular belief, sufferers do not walk around with a sticky note attached to their head saying ‘Don’t look at me; I’m one of the crazy ones’.
When you educate yourself about your diagnosis, physical and psychological, you become empowered by knowledge. You can see through the snide remarks from the no-offense-but-people. When you react from strength, not trepidation, you’re helping to erode the fear, misconceptions and stigma that are rampant in our local and global communities.
My father was dead at 51, a casualty of the manic depression he had fought for years. The New York Times, citing its suicide policy, declined to print his obituary. He lived in a time when mental illness was an embarrassment for families and a weakness for men. For Dad it was a crushing blow. He had left Harvard early to join the marines, and flew dive-bombers in the Pacific. He came home from the war to a different world, a wife, two small children, no money and bipolar disorder. He prided himself on his toughness and never discussed his demons.