Feelings of depression are sometimes confused with moodiness, emotionalism, or attention-seeking, but they are neither. NO one wants to feel depressed, nor do we simply want to ride out the lingering deep sadness, or busy ourselves with distractions and trinkets that soothe us temporarily.

Depression makes you feel like a ball of yarn that can easily and painfully come unraveled.

Although there are people who have never officially been diagnosed as clinically depressed, they know something is wrong and sense that it could be depression they are feeling. You could be depressed if you are experiencing any of the following:

  1. Changes in sleep patterns and needing more sleep than you used to,
  2. Changes in cognition and feeling your thoughts are always muddled,
  3. You begin ruminating (excessive worry and overthinking things),
  4. Changes in eating habits and you are eating more that  usual or not eating at all,
  5. You become withdrawn and anti-social,
  6. Unusual aches and pains (frequent headaches, body aches, back and neck pain).

See, that’s just the thing–until society can begin to understand depression as more that an emotion or a feeling, they will not take it seriously or stop stigmatizing. Depression is a biological issue that affects more than one’s brain.

People with depression also need to speak up be more vocal about what they are personally feeling in order to fight the scars of stigma. Until you are willing to stand up and admit you are suffering, people will continue to hand you the next mask to put on so they can feel comfortable… and you will continue to live in a cave.

When I began this journey over a year ago -sharing and leading mental health awareness discussions- many people drifted away from me. One associate even told me that I would regret ever telling anyone about my issue. She went on to say that depression in her opinion, was “over-rated”. I thought her perspective interesting, especially the over-rated part. I asked myself, “How would she know how depression feels?” I guess one needs to start telling cancer patients how over-rated cancer is, and tell victims of gun violence how over-rated street violence is. Better yet….maybe people should read about the tragdies that happen in the news everyday, the terrorism in our communities and country, then go to the funeral home and count the suicide victims and tell us all how over-rated mental illness really is.

Learning to live silently with the stigma of depression is like living with a scar that never heals; you cover it up and medicate it, but the scar is still there. Sadly, you can’t share your concerns with anyone or ask for help.

I’ve learned to take my mask off and deal with my own scars of depression. I am free. I am whole. I am healed. Do I still have those familiar days of sadness? Sometimes, but they no longer have me! I now know how to fight in a way that I didn’t before, and one of my weapons is my testimony.

I know what I was and I know who I am now – and I am not the same.

Dealing with your own scars of depression is mandatory if you want to be rid of the shame and the silence that makes you feel isolated and alone.

Dealing with your scars and even sharing your scars of depression, is essential, if you want to walk into a room and feel normal. Communication informs negative mindsets and educates misinformed people so that you can be free to heal in the diverse ways that matter.

Dealing with your scars of depression every day and requiring others to do the same, is the compass to your new address…your new fulfilling life. No more hiding behind a medical issue that people treat like something you can just “get over.”

Today, I want to challenge you to intentionally deal with your scars of depression–even if you’re still battling depression– because you deserve a full and engaging life…and wholeness is possible. But, you must believe it is and DO something different so that you can BE someone different; so you can really live.

“No more stigma” begins first with (a) you taking off your mask and accepting yourself; (b) getting the help you need and, (c) talking about it to others who are misinformed. One local conversation can lead to a global dialogue that influences mental wellness and drives change.

Can we do it? Yes we will.

Until next time, be truthful and be courageous and #jointheconversation.