The Stigma

There is a reason the subject of mental illness is so vitally important to me.  I know it intimately.  Having lived with chronic clinical depression most of my life, I've learned to deal with it, to function, to manage.  In that way, depression is similar to alcoholism, another topic I know a great deal about.  Just like I'm not sure people realize how many seemingly well functioning alcoholics there are, I doubt they see past the barriers we erect to simply make it through another day, depressed.  I've told my story in other posts so I'll try not to repeat myself here.  I'll tell another part of the story, the part I don't talk about openly.

I grew up knowing about suicide.  There were uncles and cousins who took their own lives.  No one talked about it.  When they did it was only in a hushed, shameful voice.  I grew up understanding shame quite well.  As an adult, I understand there can be a genetic component to depression.  The fact there are so many suicides in my family is not simply a tragedy.  It's impossible to ignore the genetic link.

I've always tried to be open with my kids about everything.  Besides, you really can't hide stuff from your kids.  When my son was 13, he was struggling greatly in school.  He would come home in tears daily.  One day there was a commercial on tv, a public service announcement about depression and your local mental health clinic.  He looked at me and said, "mom, I think that's what's wrong with me". I remember the moment because I'm quite sure my heart stopped.  I knew I couldn't ignore it or make light of it.  I took him to a local counselor and we got lucky, they hit it off great.  Turns out his problems in school were related to some learning disabilities that had gone undiagnosed earlier.  His struggle ate away at his self esteem to the extent, he never fully gained it back, as far as school went.   The counseling helped him a great deal though.

A few years ago  my son came into my office at work early one weekday morning.  He was pale and shaking and asked me if I could take him to the emergency room, he didn't know what was wrong with him.  I talked to him as we made the 20 minute drive to the doctor's office.  I recognized the signs...he was having a panic attack.  I tried to calm him down, and fortunately, there was a doctor available to see him.  The doctor calmed him down further, explained what was happening.  He now also takes medication and sees a doctor on a regular basis.  He's doing well now.  Depression and anxiety occur quite often in unison.

My son and I are alike in many ways, including sharing the mental illness of depression and anxiety disorder.  My daughter and I are like many mothers and daughters I suppose.  We are often at odds.  As I said, I've tried to be open with my kids about my depression and their father's alcoholism.  The discussion flows easily with my son.  My daughter however, doesn't want to talk and has done a good job at burying her feelings.  I recognize it so well because at her age I was much the same.  Except my mother wouldn't have wanted to talk about any of it.  We have a pretty good relationship, we can talk about lots of things and enjoy spending time together.  But I've been aware for the last several years, there's a delicate balance to maintaining our relationship.

I've only told this story to two people in my life I was very close to.  But I want to tell it again now.  My daughter is the opposite of her brother in most every way.  She was a straight A student, she has lots of friends, is involved in lots of activities.  She seems to have it all together.  She's always seemed more mature than her years.  I so often look back and wonder what I didn't see.

When she was around 13 I received a call at work from her jr high counselor asking me to come in for a talk.  It seemed one of her friends had gone to the counselor because she was afraid my daughter was going to harm herself.  Apparently she had mentioned suicide.  Another moment in my life I will always remember clearly.  The world stopped.  I met with the counselor who could only give me vague details of what had gone on.  I met with all her teachers and asked if they had seen anything or knew of anything going on.  They were all as shocked as I was.  I made an appointment for her with a private counselor.  I tried talking to her but she was angry.  Angry I'd talked to the counselor and teachers, angry I was making her go to a counselor and angry I was making her tell her dad why I'd been called to school.  A lot of 13 yr old girl trauma going on back then.

For a few months I took her to the counselor.  She either wouldn't talk or only talked about things that were fine.  She told me it had all been a big misunderstanding, a joke that got out of hand.  However, I knew her friends well, the same group of girls are her friends today.  There was something they heard or saw that gave them reason to be very concerned.  Eventually, things calmed down.  I couldn't find anything in her behavior or notice any changes to give me a clue to what had been going on or was going on now.  She continued through high school with a 4.0 GPA taking honors classes.  She was very involved with the music programs and has always been  responsible and trust worthy.

Yet still, I worry.  I don't know if depression will be something she must deal with too.  As mature and responsible as she is, I know in some ways she's still a little girl.  I don't know if she will come to me if she needs help.  I'm not sure she wouldn't be ashamed of it if she did need help.  She's used to being very independent and she is headstrong, with attitude (I don't know where she got that).  And there's nothing I can do, but be here whenever she needs me.

So there you have it.  I have two children.  My son is now 25, employed as a mechanic and a truck driver, married and has a child on the way.  My daughter is 21 and in college, getting her accounting degree.  They were each at risk of being a teenage suicide.  I could have lost one or both of them.  Every time I hear of another suicide, especially a young person, my heart breaks a little bit.  And it makes me angry.

Why can't we talk about mental illness freely and openly?  Why do people feel ashamed of having an ILLNESS?  It's not a weakness of character, it's not laziness, it's not feeling sorry for yourself, it's a disease people.  It's not a joke. 

I want to repeat that for anyone who may have missed it, it's an illness, not something you toss around lightly to disparage people's beliefs or make them feel small.  And damn those of you who do it.

Things are gradually getting better.  The stigma still exists.  I dare anyone to try to prove to me it doesn't.  I feel it's only fair to warn you.  I am a mother first, and I will always do everything in my power to see that my children lead happy and healthy lives.  Speaking up and speaking out is the least I can do.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


SeriouslySappy SeriouslySappy 51-55, F 144 Responses Sep 16, 2009

Your Response


Thank you for sharing your story, and you're right: WHY can't we talk about this openly? The same way we can't talk about death openly, and especially suicide. It take tremendous strength and courage to write about these issues, but we need to, with the same openness that you have with this post...

Human beings in our culture have some strangely bizarre and unnecessary expectations to live up to. It take a lot of courage to admit that we have challenges of any sort. We could all stand to gain new skills in authenticity, and by sharing your story, I'm sure many of your readers will learn a TON. It's the best way to build community and affirm that WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER-

For 9 years I've struggled with depression. At times I would be fine, then at some point I would snap. I never knew what exactly would trigger it. I always felt ashamed of it, I felt weak. I couldn't understand why I couldn't cope with everyday life like everybody else could. Most of the time I try and hide it as best I can. My husband and sister know I struggle, but until now I did not even know there was such thing as chronic depression. My dad has struggled with it throughout my life, and my mom off and on. I tried talking with her about it once, she (in a not so direct way) encouraged me to "get over it". I only wish there were more people like you out there. I've learned structure and routine help me deal, but I hope I never do anything rash and I hate that I can't be sure if I can stay above it.

I love your story, i wish more people would take the time to learn about about mental illness. i like your son have a learning disability. and in high school i was ashamed about it but now that i'm older i know now that everything has something wrong with them, and you shouldn't be ashamed of it because that makes you who you are.

I love your story, i wish more people would take the time to learn about about mental illness. i like your son have a learning disability. and in high i was ashamed about it about now that i'm older i know now that everything has something wrong with them, and you shouldn't be ashamed of it because that makes you who you are.

It's a long roady you have travelled for sure. I've walked a parallel road maybe not as hard as yours but plenty enough to understand. I think it's important to also say that it's not a mental illness as they used to think. Depression is a physical illness that affects your brain. .

Holidays are extra hard and I'm not sure why. Peace to you xo

Thank you Sappy for posting this. The stigma will always be attached to Mental Illness because people fear and judge others that have it.

Thanks for your comments everyone!

The stigma is alive & well today. Mental illness is still mis-understood & treated by many as a dirty, little secret. Don't let anyone do that to you. Get treatment of some sort, live your life and never, ever be ashamed of having an illness. Fortunately, treatment does work in the vast majority of cases. It may take awhile to find what works for you, but don't give up.

I was clinically depressed from childhood. I attempted suicide at 12. What a damning life experience I had.

Then I found the root cause of my depression. I wasn't looking for it - it just came upon me.

The worldview that I had been accepting as "normal" was radically insane and cruel. And there seemed no way out of it. The more I struggled, the greater the depression and the more I longed for death.

Then the worst/best thing that could ever happen, happened. My worldview crashed. I saw the lies and deceit. I saw how I had been imprisoned by beliefs that did not serve me well. I rejected all the obvious lies.

This meant that I rejected love of God and love of country, and - for the first time - I began to aspire to love of self. (In our country, it is wrong to love one's self - which is how we are kept in our insane prisons).

I was lucky that I escaped. I have a brother and sister with schizophrenia and a brother and sister with bi-polar disorder. My other siblings have been on, or are on, anti-depressants, or alcohol - not that pot is illegal.

I think that there would be a lot less mental illness if there were a lot more pot available. Had I not been able to see outside of the lie, I would still be captive to it, and would still be depending on anti-depressants to keep me going until I found a better way to die than old age.

I truely hope forr you that you get a better relationship with your daughter, as for all with your son it is great you can have such an open relationship.

I am a mother of 2 girls, only 3 and 4 years old, come April. In my youngest, I just see her as the spitting image of her father, exact replica. My almost 4 year old, worries me to a point where I get completely panicked and freaked out.

I have several mental illness, bipolar, panic, split personality, and several personality disorders. I am so scared my 4 year old is following in my steps, she is completely my replica. I watch her behaviors, attitudes, everything, and all I see is me.

I was a drug addict and alcoholic for 13 years, so I feel your pain with your husband. I was functioning the first 10 years of it, then it was really down hill the last 3. I am recovered since 2003.

Also, I am very empathetic towards all people I see. I can lookin someones eyes and FEEL exactly how they are feeling. saddened, joyful, etc... My 4 year old also does this. If she sees someone crying she cries.

I dont know what to do. she is only 4 years old. I know she needs to mature more for anything to really occur or to be seen. I am steadily watching over her as a baby would be looked after to the point it looks i favor her over my 3 year old, but I am so fearful for her. I do not want her to go thru what i have gone thru and what i still go thru.

Thanks for your story. I would totally agree with there being a stigma.

I tried telling my mum on various occasions that I think I'm depressed, but she'd tell me i was just having a down day and to stop being so silly.

I tried to think that she is right, but i knew she wasn't.

one of my friends has depression, i always though she did and she was diagnosed. i used to worry alot about her because she self harmed. I tried to tell her i was depressed but before i did another friend of mine told us she had depression. behing her back my first friend used to say "what has she got to be depressed about". this made me angry, i don't really talk to her anymore, i can't tell her i'm depressed because she'd probably say the same thing about me.

but i thought that as she suffers from depression she should know that many different things cause depression.

i feel that even she is judging those with depression who's reasons aren't as bad as hers.

i just wish someone would take me seriously when i say that i'm depressed. my boyfriend knows though, only recently though we've talked about it. i tried to tell my doctor but i could already feel the judgement and lack of sympathy or any feeling coming from him that i chickened out.

thanks for sharing your story, and i definitely feel that there is a stigma attached to mental illness even though there are many peole who have a mental illness.

I shared this story with another, and I'll share the short story with you also. Long story short, my son and I have been the victims of the most heinous judicial, CPS, and beauracratic crimes you can never imagine whereby his drug addicted, abusive, and alcoholic father got custody of him when he was a mere three and a half years old such that I knew nothing about the initial change of custody until it was all said and done. Since then, these monsters supposed to protect victims have tried to falsely allege that I was mentally ill only to cover their butts for what they did, but my son is the one that suffered. Where he has been, for the last twelve and a half years the victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father, and denied inspite of evidence to the contrary by CPS, he has now got low self esteem, he acts out at school, has got into substance abuse issues, and so forth. I recently got him back after fighting for him all those years, making these fools know I wasn't going to go away. As a result of all we've been through, I have found in the past that I had panick attacks, would be stressed and depressed, my son has low self esteem, depression, and we're just tore up from all that's been done to us. I'm very anti medications and so we turned to natural products. The products we take now have not only helped us, but people with worse ailments than ours swear by them. They have helped me with depression as well as my son, I no longer have panick attacks, my son is not so anxious and fidgety anymore, and the one product helps him naturally focus in class and gives him energy and mental clarity but has no caffeine or sugar. Where I am unemployed now, I decided to get the income from products that I and my son love and that has helped restore us. I'd be glad to share with you if you'd like me to, just let me know. In the meantime, I hope my sharing our experiences has helped you some, and I feel for all you've gone through. God bless.

It's okay with me if people just don't get it. They are human therefor flawed in superstition,ignorance,and the psychological defenses are up to their neck. When and if a person is open to learning and they are ready,then they will accept. It's hard enough for the person with depression to even realize what the problem is. I understand your position and you have good reason to feel the way you do. I do understand because I am in your shoes also. I am sorry you have suffered along with your children. If it's any comfort to you, you have helped me today because i just wanted to end this pain but it does pass.

One must wonder if the children were ever really at risk. Most people have such thoughts, even if fleetingly.

Do you have treatment yourself?

How do you speak out and what do you actually do to help break down the stigma? What do you do if some idiot says something like "You're just lazy"? etc.

Impossible but you need to stop worrying about death so much and let things be. It works much better that way and having treatment is the way to recovery.

I read your story and I believe you have said a few things I might offer comments on.

Please don't reject my comments until you have read all the post.

The first is to NOT shove it down your children's throats as you are no expert yourself are you. You say you have learnt to live with it? Is that it? You've given up on improvement? Really? Or are you just waiting for a miracle.

Having had it all your life you should know one thing. If left alone it will deteriorate. Always. So you must keep the meds and treatment up regardless of how strong you feel. And do look for improvement, it it's avaiable.

You say you've had clinical depression all your life. Sorry but that's not possible nor is clinical depression a depression type. It's just depression. The name can change once a clinician, a doctor, begins treating you but it doesn't change the depth or strenth of the depression one iota. It is still the same condition. Surely you know that by now.

And likening it to alcoholism is a crock of rubbish. Drinking booze is a voluntary action, Depression is an illness, not a disease and it' snot vountary. So how long did you drink for and were you treated whilst doing so? As that would be a waste of everybody's time and money, nothing to be proud of there.

If you were drinking your treatment was negated. Full stop.

I had a similar issue when I was in my early twenties. I knew there was something wrong but had no idea. I found drink made me feel good and happy, soul of the party.. No meds at all aty that stage.

So I drank for nearly 30 years, but only when I was awake. Best solution there has been until the last decade. I never drank by myself and kept no booze at home. It was about a 3 day turnaround. One big night, a day of feeling hungover badly while working and a day to recover then do it all again. For 30 years. I was a happy drunk, always laughing and having an absolute ball. Until that last night when I became violent. So I stopped right then, not a drop or even a want since then. Lost every friend and never went near anywhere that has booze since. I regard those places now as outpatient wards for mental health sufferers.

Which meant depression surfaced, blew me apart and I had to get serious about treatment, which I did with an intensity. Never missed a dose, appointment or anything related. Did what I agreed with the doc and slowly moved up until I feel I am now sitting on the edge of the black pit, looking down to see who I can assist.

I still have the habits of depression, 50 years, including the drink period. Since age 10 I found. So I stay vigilant and will have to for life. I have tried no meds many times and 6 weeks is the best while I changed drugs. Now, I'm stable on the only drug that helped me, Effexor. I have also had a few episodes of hypomania so I'm officially BP but that's easily controlled with meds.

Stigma? It used to upset me too and I'd be hurt by what people did. Until one day when I was starting to feel strong again. I just felt "I'm not going to take that". So I got up and followed the guy, stopped him and gave him a mouthful he'll never forget. The idea being that he would remember it and hesitate before trying it on anyone else.

I can do it, so I do. Nobody gets away with it around me. Old lady or bikie, they get told and lectured about it. I'm tall and look like a bikie too so I'm never challenged. If they see that glint in my eye they know to shut up.

All puff and no bite but it does the job. Aggression is needed else they laugh it off and keep doing it.

You are to be applauded loudly for doing your bit in your way. Don't ever let anyone put u=us down for having an illness. Thank you for that, I wish there were more who would do so but I remember the fear and the wish to just curl up so I can't blame anyone for saying nothing. I'll try for them, and me. As you do too.

Growing up with suicide around us is quite common actually. Most just don't mention it as it scares them so much. I tried twice and pulled back, I decided I would live and take anything this illness has to throw at me. Had a second family since then! 19 years together, longer than my first disaster, wedding that is.

Also never let anybody tell and make you feel depression takes away our IQ. If anything I believe is raises it as we face such difficult things and have to deal with it ourselves. When we are at the bottom it seems like it's gone but it's just inert for a time, being protected from this illness. As we come up it asserts.

Hypomania has proven to me the human brain is capable of so much more than we accept daily now. It's so powerful and fills you with energy and joy. Falling back to earth is like dying though so it's best to settle for average having felt the heights.

There is NO genetic connection to suicide at all. About 1/3rd of people may have genetic depression but suicide is not aitomatically a part of that. Thet depends on getting tretment. No treatment, that's where we all head. Treatmen? It goes away. Not genetic. Forget about your relatives doing it, nothing to do with you.

Society IS changing, in the West at least and becoming more accepting of an illness they used to jail us for. Due to people speaking up, like you, and me. Say it in public, quietly is fine, but firmly. My way is aggression as I use my appearance you see. Works well.

Good wishes to you and yours.

My son has depression, bad. But we can't talk and have had no contact for over 4 years now. We can't be together as we are too simliar. We spark each other. Sad but we've both accepted it now, I hope. When he wrote to my partner and said too much, including "He makes me feel like dying" I decided enough and insisted on space for both. Of course I didn't MAKE him feel that but he is as stubborn as I but I have experience too and always find answers he can't handle you see.

I tell you that in the hope you don't have the same situation with your daughter. She sounds like most humans. Refuses to accept it and won't listen to anyone. Let her find her own way and you'll stay close. I learnt the hard way. I have 3 daughters who are all fine and they know not to poke the monster, me. I'm usually fine but some days.....You know all about that too.

Keep up the good work and, as stupid as it sounds, try not to worry about your kids until something happens. Then you swoop in and see what you can do.

Good story, thank you.

Well, I guess you told me. For what it's worth, yes, I have received treatment in the form of both therapy & medications. I still take meds. What a coincidence, Effexor is one of the meds which has worked for me. The last 10 years have been a period of great personal growth.

Perhaps, my terminology was clumsy and I did not explain myself as well as I could have done. My primary purpose in writing this was to try & help people understand this disease is very common and there is help available. No one should ever be ashamed of having a disease.

As you clearly stated, I am no expert. I was simply sharing my experience in the hopes someone else might relate to it. I prescribe no meds or treatments for anyone. I do encourage them to reach out for help.

As for me, my childrern, grandchildren & life ... it's progressing well thank you. Considering I just recently lost the love of my life, I'd say I'm doing good all things considered.

Thanks for sharing your experience.


There's mo implied criticism of any single thing you wrote. You wrote it with great intent and look how many positive responses you have received. You've done brilliantly in fact, found something in most everyone that needed touching and brough it out of them.

Truly you could not have written a more effective post as is succeeded magnificently. I said I had some comments but that did not detract from what you wrote and how well you wrote it, to appeal o all.

I think it's a truly honest, heartfelt and meaningful post which nobody could be negative about.

No, you're not an expert, but then again, nobody is, including the entire medical profession. It is my firm opinion that we know much more than they and the only way they can learn is from us. Without our feedback, they know nothing at all. More of us need to be more honest to help them help us and the future Us's. For some reason many think it's clever to hide things and trick medical staff. The only person they fool is themselves when they do that. You have to let it all out or you get nowhere, right?

So sorry to hear of your loss. You must be strong to be still doing what you do. My condolences, if they mean anything. I too have suffered great personal losses in my life and it never goes away but you learn to live with it. Remember the good and forget the bad.

Actully the reason I wrote to you is threefold. One, to laud your standing up to stigma, two in fear you may do what I did and turn my son against me, with your daughter and 3 to congratulate you on your support for your son. You family was lucky to have you at it's core and they know that. Let your daughter make her mistakes, as long as she knows you are there when she finds out you were right and you wil help.

Brilliant post Serious.

Thank you but please don't misunderstand my previous reply. Many people who responded had read previous stories of mine and understood some of the references I made in this story.

Let me address significant points of your initial reply I take issue with.

Yes, my son was definitely at risk. My daughter's situation was very different and required a different approach. I have never pushed anything on them, simply tried to let them know I was available, would listen & help in any way I could.

Yes, I have received treatment beginning with therapy. Upon a therapist's insistance, I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed Wellbutrin. After some time, I was convinced I was fine and shouldn't need the pills. A few years later I was a mess and back to the therapist and then the psychiatrist. This time it was much more difficult to find a med which would work. Whatever term you wish to categorize it with, my depression has been lifelong. While suicide may not have a genetic factor, depression can have. Untreated, severe depression can lead to suicide. I attempted it at 21. At 45 the depression I was dealing with was so severe, my doctor was considering trying an anti-psychotic medication to kick start my brain chemistry into balance. Fortuanately, before we reached that point, a combination of Effexor, Wellbutrin & Xanax for the accompanying anxiety was effective.

The reason I know so much about alcoholism isn't because I self-medicated with booze. My husband is an alcoholic. His 2 brothers are alcoholics. His parents were alcoholics. I won't debate that alcoholism is the accurate term, it is. Yes, I have been to Al-Anon & AA meetings to increase my understanding & to learn about that disease. I can not fix him. I can not control anyone else. I can only work on my own issues and control how I react to those around me.

What do I do to address & change the stigma? I speak openly about my depression & treatment among my own family, among friends, among co-workers. I never shove anything down anyone's throats. I know better than anyone, I do not have all the answers. However, I will listen and point people in directions to seek their own treatment. Many people have come to me for such attention & advice. In real life & EP. My personal philosophy is never to judge because I hate being judged myself.

I have not learned to live with anything because I've given up or because I'm waiting for a miracle. I've learned to accept this is a disease I can only live with if I am self aware and willing to follow the treatment regimen. I'm not lazy or sloppy or feeling sorry for myself. I have an illness which requires medication & treatment. I will never forget that again.

I apologize for the harshness of my previous comments as I can see you meant no harm. However, I am accutely passionate on the issue of mental illness. Due to my recent loss, I'm overly sensitive to most things. Grief is a much larger monster in my life these days.

I hear you. I so agree and can relate about the fact on how we can still manage, function, force ourselves to do things that seem so hard when you have depression. I know I will always talk about it to my children and I am hoping they will never have to suffer from this.I would feel guilty but I know I will be there for them because like you hearing about teen suicide just really breaks my heart for we can relate to this despair that comes at this time of life when you wish you could be understood, seen, heard for who you are and still learning about who you are...

Thankd for writing this. I can tell you put alot of you in there. In life with all my adventures ive cried the suicide card well who wouldent when they were kicked out of here in /3. Couldent deal w my tomsyndrome. s a whole diff storyta


as a kid I prided myself on being able to show only the emotions that I thought others wanted from me. I could cheer my mom, make my sister calm down, listen to other people and relate and give insight. this was very empowering but eventually caught up with me. I started taking pain killers to not show anger, as a teen I took anything to numb the pain that I didn't want to show to others, not realizing that I could admit to suffering from depression because the stigma seemed so huge. At having is point after finally seeking help for depression for a few years and putting my fear of mental health stigma aside I have seen all forms. I have gone through times of denial, times of close to no function, times of thinking that I was "past depression or anxiety" and also times of feeling very suicidal and hopeless.

For me their is hope in knowing that others that struggle with a similar road learn to live with it, I don't see that as giving up, I see that as "life goes on" mentality which isn't always easy to do.

Thanks for writing this. I am glad you bring up the mother daughter/family element when coping with depression, as well as the stigma around mental illness. I am thankful that my mom through out my life has been open to talking about managing depression and I think it may be due to her life experience with dealing with people who have committed suicide.

Through out my life I haven't ever been close with someone who has committed suicide but I have lost friends to violence (been shot and killed), and I have had people close to me threaten suicide. This makes me not ever want to share my inner struggles with people who I care about because I anticipate the pain it could put them through, which I am seeing has led me to let it build up to the point that I am at now...

I have noticed that as I am going though the ups and down of depression I reach out to family as well as push them away. I don't want my family to see me at my worst but I also try to be transparent with them. Especially with the family that like to gossip or share with the world my personal business. I relate a lot to people not able to talk about it. I can't seem to shake that if something didn't traumatically happen to make my day bad then if I talk about it the way I really feel I will be complaining. I know this is thinking but it also seems the more I talk about depression the worse it gets. So I find myself very much believing in all forms of support for those suffering from mental health illness problems but not able to help myself. I don't let friends in on my struggles because I feel like they will view it as self sabotage. Anyways I shared all this to possibly hear feedback, give feed back that I very much like your post...

I totally get where you're coming from with the stigma of depression. Back in year 11, I had finally given up with depression and stopped fighting. I planned suicide and when I told a friend, she told the teacher, who told the school counsellor, who told the principle, who kicked me out of school for two weeks because they didn't want the drama and apparently I was 'traumatising' my two best friends because i told them.

My two 'ex' best friends were not allowed to contact me and had counselling and support because of the trauma I had inflicted all the while I was shoved to the side like a pile of rubbish. My parents were so angry and upset at me as well and put me through the whole 'guilt' trip and I never really got any support at that time.

When I went back to school my two friends didn't want to have anything to do with me, they said I was too much of a burden and they told all my other friends what had happened which was humiliating for me to come back to.

So yeah I get there's a stigma to depression. Never again did I mention the word depression to anyone.

I know this post was written more than 3 years ago but the message it's trying to get across still applies. It truly is well written and all the replies have contributed to my learning from this post.

I have suffered from depression, that I am aware of, since I was 15. Mine is ocassional but when it hits it's pretty obvious to me that I'm dealing with it. I can relate to alot of the posts and I too feel that there is a stigma attached or ignorance or a preference to just ignore it and it'll go away and the person will be fine. There were several things in the posts that go my attention, the first being was the topic because as I am writing this I am dealing with it once again, and just in time for the holidays. Someone asked why it seemed worse during the holidays? well I think it's because we're expected to be happy and cheerful and engaging and the everything should be perfect....but often it's not and trying to live up to the expectations of family and society during the holidays is dually challenging and we often fail, I know I do. I SO do not want to put up Christmas decorations it reminds me of what I'm not feeling and of what I am unable to do. I would prefer not to decorate but my kids insist upon it, they don't know I'm depressed. They may sense something is wrong but they don't know what.

For me my first episode of depression came and went completely undiagnosed but I remember it well. At the time depression was not something you talked about and I had never even heard of it. My whole depression, the worst of it where I was acutely aware of being in terrible pain lasted about 3 months. I was able to get out of it by getting myself out of the situation and making changes. But that was all I knew. And each succeeding depression was about the same, it hit hard when the worst of it came and it seems to come every few years. I have analyzed my depressions and have found some patterns to them. Which helps, I can recognize when I am slipping into one, though this one really caught me off guard. And if I can see them coming I can head them off and they are less severe. But it hasn't always been like that. But I am just now looking at what might be my triggers and I can already see some similarities in each episode.

Most recently in my life I learned that I was involved in an emotionally abusive marriage to a Narcissist. Some of you mentioned circumstances and the descriptions you gave tell me you've probably been dealing with a Narcissist. I have learned more about Narcissism than I ever wanted to and yes it's a mental illness and it's one of them that can't be changed and the Narcissist usually is unaware and/or has no desire to change, it's the victims that suffer from this disorder and often accompanying is it depression. During my marriage I had at least 2 maybe 3 episodes. Two for sure were connected to post partum depression but stil it's a form of depression and it annoyed my x that I was depressed and couldn't snap out of it and that I couldn't attend to him etc. He would often use my depression to bully me, telling me I was a useless mother and that it made me weak or look weak and I was incapable of doing the smallest thing.

So dealing with the recovery from being in an abusive relationship I've had to do some serious looking at myself, my past and my relationships, everything so that I could understand why and how I got involved with such a bad person. By and large my X was tame compared to what some Narcissists do bu I was still affected greatly by his behaviors. I don't talk much about the depression. Most people that I encounter don't want to know, all they do want to know is when I 'll be better and that I have alot of live for and yada yada. I haven't learned to live with it well, I wait for it to go away and most of the time I have to do it myself without support.

I have done therapy but I don't find it very effective when I'm not given help to deal with that's in front of me. I get told to be happy, think positive and stuff like that. I had one counselor tell me when I was about 16 or so that I need to be making others feel better by giving them compliaments and such and I should stop being so needy, well something to that effect anyways. I've tried the drugs, a few different kind but I could not stand the side effects they make me more anxious and jittery than the depression itself did. I have found some natural stuff that works when I am consistent. The thing is when I feel better I do stop using them. I usually don't need them again for a few years.

So what is the answer? I think educating it great and I hope that some day the stigma goes away but it's hard to talk about because I do believe I have lost a few friends because of it and because they truly didn't understand or couldn't accept what was happening to me and couldn't deal with the amount of support I needed. But at this moment I have been involved in a relationship with a man that I truly believe is perfect for me and things had been going really well but then it seemed like overnigiht things changed and looking back I can see roughly about that time I started changing and I think that I've been slowing falling into this depression for nearly 6 months, if that's the case I have to figure out if that's consistent with my history and try to determine what the trigger is. But anyways, this man knows nothing of depression and asked me to educate him on it, and he says he won't leave and that he will support me, but all the same I am afraid of loosing him and that causes me anxiety which just adds to the depression. It just hard to believe him when everyone else in past has given up on my and left.

I wish this was a forum, because I have been on a Narcissism recovery board and it's made a HUGE difference having the immediate feedback and a community that can truly relate to what you're talking about and some place safe to come and vent and know that you will not be judged.

Thank you for posting, all of you. and I apologize for this being so long :) Thank you for taking the time to read, it took me nearly two days to get the energy to write it.

Good for you, good for you!
It seems that you've found the right person to love you and help you with life.
Good luck to you.

Sadly this man that I thought was the right person, just said all the right things. I would come to learn in just a few months after I wrote this that he too was/is a Narcissist. I have since left him, had closure with him, if that's even possible, and have moved on to complete No contact with him. And things have been better since. So it's the people you surround yourself with too that can contribute to depression.

Thank you for the response, Kat. It's sad but it's a good thing that you were able to find-out early-on. Take good care, dear. My "relationships" with women usually last but two months......So I can certainly relate in some ways. And, yeah, the people you "hang-out" with can really mess-up an otherwise good day. GB and HNY to you, Kat.

Talking about it is a taboo yet people are more aware of depression these days which is great. Some people are not keen to admit their problems just like alcohol or drugs users and some find it easy to share their problems. Once I told my friends about my depression they either took advantage of me or they avoid me so I don't bother with them anymore. They think depression means crazy people which is untrue of course. They are just bloody narrow minded people and those who are like that, I hope in their later life, they suffer the same fate and i wouldn't be there at all.

I soooo sympathize with you. I have a diagnosis of panic disorder, major depression, bipolar 2 and borderline personality disorder. My biggest problem in my life besides all of this is that my wonderful "family" refuses to even acknowledge that I am mentally ill. I think it's all about guilt with my parents. They think that my problem is immaturity, poor behavior and that I have no desire to "change." If they would just LISTEN to me and face the fact that I am ill, they would begin to understand me. I can dream, OK? My family is VOID of compassion, good thoughts, and has sent me nothing but negative signals all of my life. No wonder I'm ill. No wonder.
I have been in psychotherapy since the age of 20, been given all manner of medications and such, and only get marginal relief from my symptoms. I am now in my late 50's without a wife (ever) or even a relationship. All of my relations with the opposite sex become train wrecks in a matter of weeks, because of my illness.
Yes, the stigma has to lift so that people understand that we don't choose to be this way. They just don't get it.

Here is a link to a Free Personal Development Audio Book - I hope you can gain something from it :-)