As a teenager, I was depressed for years but felt too ashamed to tell anyone. I did everything I could to make it appear like everything was fine. I smiled just enough to cover up my lack of confidence.
Prior to seeking help and receiving a diagnosis, it was incredibly hard for me to discuss this with anyone.
I didn’t want to tell anyone because I thought it would only make things worse. I feared they would judge me, or they would dismiss my depression as merely “teenage angst.” And I thought given time, I could overcome my depressive thoughts. Secretly, I bought books and read articles online, but after a few years it only got worse.
Eventually I had had enough. And one day in my freshman year of college I decided to reach out to someone.
I knew that I would struggle with finding the words to express what I was going through, so I decided to write out a detailed text to my parents. First, I did it on a piece of paper, then I typed it out on my phone. I confessed that for years I had contemplated suicide and battled bouts of debilitating insecurity.
I wrote that I knew that I would not be able to overcome this on my own like I had hoped. I asked for help, but I wasn’t sure what could make me better.
My parents showed nothing but support. It was such a relief. I also decided to tell my best friends and my cousin, who responded similarly. They got it in a way I didn’t expect.
I realized how wrong I was: Relying on other people was much better than going it alone because others could offer the support and advice that I might not realize I needed.
The more I worked on beating depression through therapy, the easier it became for me to talk about it. Because I felt accepted and wasn’t assuming the worst when it comes to other people’s reactions, I was able to move past my shame.
By the time I met my wife, I assumed that I had put my depression behind me for good. For the most part that was true. I no longer succumbed to thoughts of unbearable self-loathing or had debilitating insecurities, but there were still some lingering effects. Most notably, I still had some of the same extreme thoughts that were a catalyst for my depression in the first place.
But by that point,I wasn’t ashamed any longer. And I knew how important it was to share what I was going through with the people I love and who love me.
The fact that I took that first step and told my parents I was depressed led me to a place where I could talk about my depression without embarrassment or shame with my future wife, and that made a huge difference in our relationship and my life.
I no longer feel as alone because I know she has my back. And I’ve found that support essential to my continued recovery.
Editor’s Note: If suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from depression, visit MentalHelp.net for support.