“As much as I have repaired the fragments of me, I’m still forced to split and divide, to keep the inside in, to dissociate from my history. The balancing act is fragile. I hold onto this small hope: that I can tell my story in ways beyond words, in action, in movement, that what and how I teach can make up for what I cannot say…” – Unknown
I don’t know that I can say I have repaired the fragments that make up my past, rather I think that I have accepted them for what they are, I think that is what I have done anyway. My ability to now write about my past and what I have been through shows at some level my acceptance of what has occurred. While I still struggle to talk openly about it to people I am one step closer by being able to express it through my writing. This is why at times, well a lot, I force myself to keep what has happened/happening inside me and allow it to fester and sometimes grow beyond what it actually is until I can’t manage it anymore. It is indeed a fragile balancing act between expressing, letting it all out and keeping it internally at a manageable level. Manageable being the fragile part of the puzzle because that is something I am not so good at because managing for me usually means reaching tipping point when I either explode or go into melt down.
My story has been flowing through my writing for a number of months now and with time I am growing in confidence that at some point I can start to talk about this with the people around me. I have had a few people communicate to me about my writing and how informative it has been for them but I still struggle to open up to them and merely agree with what they are saying. I have hope that eventually I will be able to do more than just write about my experience through action, movement and advocating on behalf of those living with depression. I believe that while I cannot talk about my experience openly I can through my writing still teach in some form and this makes up for what I cannot say. Most of those who are in my position, living with depression, have the same problems in that they cannot verbalise to those around them. Our silence has been engineered by the stigma that has been constructed around mental illness and how people perceive us in their environments once they are aware of our fight with depression.
I know that to break down the barriers of stigma we all need to be an active voice. It appears to be a double edged sword that on one side we need to be able to talk about depression to reduce stigma but then on the other side we remain silent because we fear the stigma and the behaviors that comes with being open and honest about our illness. Life would be so much easier if the people around us in all facets of our life started to have the conversations about mental illness and asking R U OK?, when someone looks like they may be struggling because once the conversation is started a bridge begins to be built whereby there is trust and openness to stop us hiding behind our silence.
Whether I like it or not my history has made me who I am as a person, it has also made me depressed but what has caused my silence was my Mother’s theory that you didn’t talk about your problems and therefore forcing me into a world of silence that even when and if the opportunity arose to talk about my problems I couldn’t. I was taught to be silent and to talk was to be punished. To internalise my problems was and still is to fragment, split and divide.
I know that some who are reading this relate to the silence that surrounds depressives and I encourage you all to make a start on repairing the fragments in your life by starting a journal, start writing about the past, about the present, about your thoughts, feelings and how you are managing. With your writing will not only come a level of acceptance but a confidence in yourself to start to break down the wall of silence that so many of us put up to protect ourselves from those around us. By writing and moving beyond our silence we can encourage more to start the conversation with someone with a mental illness, and that very act cannot only help people to seek treatment but to also save lives.