Changing the Way We Perceive Those Who Struggle with Depression.

“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” ~ Marvin J. Ashton

We try our best to be happy and upbeat while holding space for others. We do our best to try and always do the right thing: be good people, citizens, friends, and lovers.

We try so hard and do our best to portray a life of perfection that it almost makes one feel inadequate when they experience the other side of life. The dark side: the ugly feelings of anger, jealousy, depression, grief, and anxiety.

“All that glitters is not gold.” ~ William Shakespeare

I learned years ago that to be truly whole, one must embrace both ends of the spectrum: The light and the dark—the yin and yang. All consuming blackness is just as vital to our growth as is the sunflower yellow side of things.

So why are we so afraid to speak our truth during the ugly, dark times? There is not one person I have ever encountered who hasn’t experienced this blackness at one point or another in their life.

I have struggled on and off with depression and anxiety my whole life. This monkey on my back is something that I have had to accept as much as I wanted to resist it. It’s a dark damp cave that on days of unrest cocoons me as though it were a long lost friend.

Yet, most people would say that I am one of the most positive and uplifting people they have ever met. I’ve even been referred to as perky on occasion.

“Perfect black creates and illuminates the best color.” ~LG Commercial OLED

I learned a long time ago to live with this duality within my psyche. I have to make a conscience effort each and every day—a conscience choice and decision on how I choose to show up for the world.

After all, that’s what this life is: a series of choices. We get to pick and choose what we share with the world. We can decide our attitudes, our words, and our actions.

A few years ago, I made a conscience decision to begin living my life like an open book. I chose (and still do) to be real, raw, honest, forthright, and forthcoming. I made the decision to live an openly vulnerable and transparent life and in my interactions with others.

I made this decision when I was at a very low point in my life, trying to act fine and be self-sufficient. Then one day I had an epiphany. Why did I feel the need to act like everything was fine and dandy, when in fact, it wasn’t? Why did I feel shame reaching out to others? Why did I feel that the admission of needing help was somehow a sign of weakness?

During this time, I submitted one of my first articles to a publication. With everything I was going through, writing felt like my only life line.

It brought me comfort—relief—to talk about what I was experiencing. The piece was very real, raw, gritty, and straight to the point.

I received the following rejection letter:

“Dear Ms. Rogers,

This was literally one of the best pieces I have ever read. I, too, have struggled with anxiety and depression. Your piece took me right in that moment with you…

Unfortunately, as much as I loved this article, I am not able to publish it as it stands. We need to give our readers hope and encouragement. Possibly you can revisit this article once you have come out the other side and can offer advice on what got you through the dark times…”

Aghast, I revised and revised the article until it no longer felt like my truth and my voice had been silenced. I decided to scrap that article as it no longer felt authentic to me.

I think I was mostly surprised as I understand we are all seeking answers. We are all seeking enlightenment, fulfillment, and connection.

Yet there are times when we are smack dab in the middle of emotion and haven’t come out the other side yet. I think people can relate to that as well. After all, this is also a part of humanity.

Shortly after, I had an opportunity to work and be mentored by someone I greatly admire. However, after talking for less than 30 minutes and answering a series of personal questions, I was told they would not be able to work with me. The only explanation was that they had committed to themselves to not work with people struggling with depression.

While I could respect their view point, this made me angry. I am working with other behavioral health/mental health professionals. To me, it had nothing to do with mentorship and professional coaching.

To me, this implied that I was somehow broken or weak. This is not the case at all. I am a survivor and dropped the victim hat many, many moons ago.

So, how, as a society do we change the negative perception of depression? I believe it starts with me. It starts with you. It starts when individually we begin to use our own experiences of pain and deep suffering to cultivate an awakened heart, a resilient and caring heart that is the expression of our own tender humanity.

We have to start with benevolence towards ourselves and others. We must study. We must contemplate. We must reflect. We must practice.

Slowly, we mature and develop like a seed that will germinate and bear fruit if planted in good soil, watered, and tended well.

The path to a compassionate society comes from intent and action. One small act of kindness, one tender moment, one act of generosity, one act of selflessness—each of these moments can make a difference.

No single act is too small. One small act can create a huge ripple in the sea of life.

Chaos Theory: The scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterflies wings can ultimately cause a typhoon hallway around the world.

Author: Mary Rogers

Editor: Travis May

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