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MIAW 2014

One of the very first things my parents said to me after I told them I had created Boston Belle was to never mention my depression. 

Mom, Dad: I love you. And you two have come a long way in working to understand depression and supporting me. But staying silent on my experience, as if it is something to be ashamed of, to be hidden, is not something I can do in good conscience. If you are reading this, I hope you understand.

This week of October, the 5th through 11th, is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Today also happens to be National Depression Screening Day. As I have spoken at length to my Tumblr followers about how I believe one of the best ways to combat the stigmas surrounding mental illness that are prevalent in American society is to be open about it, if I did not write about MIAW I would feel like I am not only being untrue to myself, but letting down my followers, especially those who have told me they got help because of me or that I inspired them. 

To those people, and to those who have struggled or are currently struggling with mental illness- I am writing this post for you as much as I write it for myself.

I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at age 17, but had struggled with depression since I was 8 years old.

Here is my story, and here are some other questions I have answered about my experience with depression.

I am now 22, and after almost five years of treatment I am recovered- or at least, as recovered as one can be from it. I still have to work at rewiring disordered thought patterns and from being sucked back into that way of thinking.

But never in a million years when I was younger did I ever think or believe that one day I would be happy, that I would be able to look back on my depression as a thing of the past, not something that haunted me every day. And that is why I wanted to write this post today: to potentially give hope to someone suffering from this mental illness.

And that's the thing, that many, many people do not realize- it is an illness. There is a misconception that someone can just "snap out of it" or "try harder" or "it's only a phase." My depression went untreated for over eight years because I hid it, terrified to confide in anyone, worried that they would judge me. On the surface, I looked like the perfect All-American student, athlete, and daughter. Internally, I was drowning. 

That's why I want to help dispel the stigmas surrounding depression in any way I can; I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what I did. It is not a sign of weakness to get help, and although you might be worried about opening up or confiding in someone, the bottom line is, people love you and want you to be healthy. If you have or think you may have depression, I urge you to speak to someone about it.

Because even though you may not believe it, you deserve to be happy. 

If you believe you may have depression, or are too nervous yet to speak with someone, here is a free mental health screening that I encourage you to take: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

For those who are reading and have not personally struggled with depression or a mental illness, there is one thing I hope to impart: just as I showed no outward signs of depression, you may be in the presence of someone else who doesn't, or be friends/colleagues with or know someone that is dealing with depression that you aren't aware of. Every time someone educates themselves about mental illness, you can help erase the stigma that prevents or creates hesitancy in so many people to seek help.

It can be as simple as taking a minute to browse the internet about Mental Illness Awareness Week, or even by being more cognizant of what you say. For example, many use a variant of the phrase "this makes me want to kill myself," or other sayings referencing suicide, without realizing the effect it can have. For me and others who have struggled with depression, hearing it used lightly or jokingly is uncomfortable and unsettling. Just food for thought!

 If you happen to be reading this and do have depression, I also have a message to impart to you (besides the other things I have said in this post), and it comes in the form of a quote I stumbled upon some time ago on Pinterest. 

There are many slight variations in the translation, but put simply it means, "In the depths of winter, I discovered there was within me an invincible summer."

You are strong enough. 

You are not your depression or mental illness.

You have that summer within you, and you can beat the winter. 

Stay strong.

As always, if you need someone to talk to, my email and tumblr inboxes are always open. 

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  1. this post is fantastic. thank you for writing it, Lauren <3

  2. No, thank you!! You have no idea how great comments like this make me feel :)

  3. This is super well written & major props to you for putting this out there!

  4. Wonderful post. You are so brave to put your story out there. I am a new subscriber, and I saw you were preppy and a horse lover, just like me!:) great post!