I've Told The World I Have Depression, Now What?
It's been a while since I have told the world about my diagnosis with depression, in fact, the process has been going on for about 15-20 years. But sharing my diagnosis takes on a whole new meaning when I blog about it and speak out about it publicly, outside of my family and friends. While it may be something that feels "normal" to me, it might not always be the most comfortable thing to do for you or your loved one.
In some of the online communities I am involved in, the concept of self-disclosure comes up frequently. Questions like "How much should I tell online?" and "Should I be anonymous in my self-disclosure?" and other similar topics come up a lot. Establishing your online identity is one thing, but if you just began sharing your diagnosis of depression with people, either online or off, you may be wondering what comes next. I thought I would share my insights with you on what you can expect and what you might want to consider if this is where you are at, because guess what? I've been there, too.
After You Share Your Diagnosis of Depression
1. Expect it to feel strange.
If you have just begun to share your diagnosis it is going to feel strange for a while. You may feel a little bit timid or embarrassed. Even though you don't need to be, it is normal to feel that way. I think most of us worry about what our peers think of us on some level, it's hard not to wonder, what people might be thinking now.
2. Stop the "What If" thoughts.
While it's totally normal to feel this way and wonder, "What if so and so think I can't do my job now?" or "What if X,Y, and Z always think I am complaining?" It doesn't serve you any good to sit around and wonder what others are thinking about you. So, as soon as you can, replace those thoughts with something positive and/or directly approach people you care about and ask them what they are thinking about your diagnosis, it may be a great opportunity to really open up dialog with this person about the subject of depression.
3. Decide how public you want to be.
It's your diagnosis. You can tell whoever and whomever you please. It's okay to tell the whole wide world and it's okay only to tell your best friend. Only you know what feels best for you, and in time that might change. For now, decide what you are comfortable with today. Additionally, this might be a good time to consider blogging and your online identity. Do you want your diagnosis to be a part of your activities online or do you want to keep it separate?
4. Look to others for examples.
Getting to know others who also suffer from depression can be of great support, but they can also be good examples of how you can go about sharing your diagnosis. You might see people like me who talk about it regularly. Likewise, you might find out what it's like to only share your diagnosis with a small few after you get to know someone who isn't quite as public about it. Every situation is different, but by looking to others you can get an idea of what might work best for you.
5. Never forget that you need not feel ashamed.
You are not alone in your depression, you are in good company! So remember that you do not need to feel ashamed of this diagnosis. Living with depression can be hard, but the feeling of shame that can sometimes come with it is even harder. I invite you to chuck that shame right out the window and envision it blowing away, perhaps even into a million little pieces. Shame only limits us and who needs limits like that?
What tips or ideas do you have for those who have just told others about their diagnosis? What was your experience like when you told others? Have you decided to be outspoken or very selective with who you share?
Kiel, A. (2011, June 8). I've Told The World I Have Depression, Now What?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/depressiondiaries/2011/06/ive-told-the-world-i-have-depression-now-what
Author: Amy Kiel
This was a really informative article. A FB friend and I had a one hour talk about depression and business on blogtalk this past Monday. She was nervous about the topic and disclosing for many of the reasons you've mentioned here. I feel it's best to be upfront and honest and talk about it, it's the only way the stigma is going to be squashed.
Depression doesn't define you by any means, but it most certainly is part of your experience and is something many are dealing with. I feel that I may have it mildly, so for me reading about it helps me get educated and learn what to look for and what help is available too.