Dysthymia is a chronic, persistent mild depression. It's just a part of who I am. Something I deal with everyday. However, I refuse to say that I suffer from depression. Just like I don't say that my son suffers from Autism. He has autism. It's a part of him. My depression is a part of me.
I made a decision years ago to try to minimize the hold dysthymia has on me. I have worked closely with my doctor to determine a combination of drugs that help me to live my best life. It hasn't been easy. I had to get over the pride admitting I needed medication, then admitting I needed to add another medication. I had to be honest with my doctor about side effects so we could try new things. Some meds I tried left me feeling sluggish, boring and not at all creative. My doctor listened to my concerns and never gave up on trying combos until I felt like I wanted to feel.
You might be thinking TMI Aimee, T.M.I. That's the point. I am joining with a community of educators who want to be upfront and honest about mental illness.
The #semicolonedu movement started with Nicholas Provenzano. Last summer, Nick shared about his battle with depression. I was inspired to write this post at that time.
"The Semicolon Project is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire. A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life. On April 16, 2013 thousands of people joined us to raise public awareness against depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide."
This summer Nick writes
I would love to see pictures across the Internet from all of my PLN on Tuesday July 14th with a Semicolon drawn (or tattooed if you are up to it) on your body to show support for all of the educators dealing with mental health issues. Use the tag #semicolonEDU to show your support on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Let's show the world that we can come together and fight mental health stigmas by showing our support for one another. I know we can do it.
I don't have a semicolon tattoo. I have a custom bracelet tattoo. On the top of my wrist is a cross, underneath the word serve. Service is my why. I had it tattooed on my wrist for reasons similar to the semicolon project. To remind me of who I am, what I do and why.
What can you do? Be kind. Everyone is dealing with something. It doesn't do anyone any good to pile up their sorrows to see who's is largest. Just be kind to everyone. Accept the fact that people are different and handle things differently. Try to see through another's eyes.
Part of the power of depression is feeling alone, feeling as if you are in a constant shadow. When we discuss depression it loses a bit of it's power. When we listen without judgement we bring others out of the shadow in to the light. Everyone deserves to live in the light.
If you are struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury or thoughts of suicide, please know that you can discuss it. Please seek help immediately. Project Semicolon lists some excellent resources here. The world needs your contribution. You don't have to be in that shadow any longer. There are lots of people who will support and help you. Throw back the shades and join us in the light.
Listen. Love. Support.