Last night I went to a TWLOHA event to see Jamie Tworkowski speak. If you've never heard of it before, TWLOHA stands for To Write Love On Her Arms. It is an organization dedicated to ending the mental illness stigma and helping people who are struggling to find help and support. It was a night filled with some heavy moments, but also moments of victory and celebration as well.
Jamie shared some heartbreaking statistics with us, like the fact that over 2.2 million Americans have depression, but 2/3 of those people do NOT receive the help they need. So let's get real.
Depression favors no one. It is not pitiful, it does not make you weak, and it does not have to be a secret. It does not have to be a deal breaker or a burden that you cannot live with. Depression can be managed, and we have the power to choose what we do with it. But here's the thing, NONE of that is attainable if you're unwilling to bring your depression into the light. You cannot heal what is hidden. I know, the dark seems safer than the light. And the truth is almost always harder than a lie. Our hearts love to hide. But we have to face pain either way. The pain of change or the pain of staying the same. And one lasts much longer than the other.
I know it sucks, and the stigma sucks right along side of it. But we are moving in the right direction. Individuals are becoming more open minded about mental health the more we speak out about it. When I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and saw it written on paper, it made me cringe. I felt the stigma, I felt the label in my own mind.
But so what? I decided that, that piece of paper was not going to define me. It would never define who I was or how I lived. It's a diagnosis, not an identity. I believe more than ever that who we are in Christ will never be overruled by a mental health professional.
Okay, so maybe you decide to open up and talk about your depression. You go to the doctor, maybe they diagnose you. Now what? Well let me tell you first off, medication is NOT bad. I've been on an anti-depressant for over a year and it has changed my life. It helps me drastically, and I am so grateful for it. Saying no is fine, but there is a ton of spiritual and mental care that needs to follow. Depression is not just fixed by a pill. It's a hurt deep in the heart at times. While other times it is chemical. But having someone to do life with- we all need. Depressed or not.
We need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Push yourself. Push until you're exhausted, and work at it everyday. Each moment makes you stronger. Be brave. You are so brave. You are so loved. And you underestimate your ability. Fight as hard as you can, and don't give up. One day you will think to yourself, "I"m so glad I'm still here for this."