The pictures above represent the most EPIC year! I've been so blessed to travel all over the world. My family and I spent two glorious weeks exploring Australia. It was a bucket-list vacation I still can't believe happened. In fact, in the past year, I've been fortunate enough to visit NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Vancouver, Beijing, and Zurich! I hiked the Canadian Rockies, walked on the Great Wall of China, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, AND sipped wine surrounded by the breathtaking peaks of the Swiss Alps! Not bad for a girl who lives in a small suburb outside of Philadelphia, right? Can you say picture-perfect flawless life adventures? My social media accounts look like heaven!
The truth is the person I portray on my social media accounts deserves an Oscar for hiding my very real struggles with depression. My posts only show a one-dimensional side of my life because I never post the hard stuff. You see my highlight reel. You don't see pictures of me falling apart on our last night in Sydney, when I was sobbing on our hotel balcony, wondering if I'd fulfilled my life goal of traveling to Australia too soon and therefore I'd have nothing to look forward to anymore. I didn't share that planning and being excited about our trip to Australia distracted me from the grief that consumed my soul after losing one of my best friends. I didn't share that my husband was afraid to leave me alone that night on our hotel balcony.
I hid my depression because I didn't want to be judged. I hid it because I didn't want to admit it to myself. I hid it because when I was 11-years-old, my father ended his life and even though I didn't understand what depression was, I learned that if you are depressed, you commit suicide. Depression leads to suicide and that is shameful! I wanted none of that, so I pretended and preached about how we needed to end the mental health stigma, assured people depression was nothing to be ashamed of, and silently suffered, feeling like a complete hypocrite every day as I created picture-perfect posts of my life.
Through therapy and a lot of patience, I've learned to understand my depression and my triggers. I've learned about my unhealthy coping mechanisms and faulty beliefs, and that depression isn't anything to be ashamed about. Depressed people can be happy. Depressed people don't always end their life. Depressed people are pretty freaking amazing!!!
It was only recently that it occurred to me that maybe I'm not the only one silently suffering. Maybe other women feel ashamed for feeling depressed. Maybe other women need to hear my story in order to share their story or ask for help. Maybe I can make depression relatable and together we can end the stigma of depression! Maybe we can support, understand, and encourage each other through our dark days. Maybe we can share some laughs along the way.
I have depression. I am not crazy. I am worthy of love and friendship. And so are you.
Thank you for reading my story! To read more and be alerted of new posts, like my Facebook Page, The Ordinary Chaos.
Heidi has been working as a school counselor for over 15 years and strives to end the stigma of depression. She offers helpful tips and strategies to help yourself or someone you love who is suffering. Her personal experiences with grief, relationships, depression, poor self-image, bullying, anxiety, and relational aggression gives her a unique perspective on what its takes to overcome tragedy as a adolescent and adult.