To Share or Not To Share…

That is a question that anyone faces who has learned they have a medical condition. Be it temporary or life changing. It is not a simple question and there is not a simple answer. I know, I know… after FIVE blog posts regarding depression and its impact on myself, the children and Ken as well it is a little like shutting the barn door after the horses have all gotten out to have this discussion NOW but what can I say? Anyone who knows me in person (and even on chat) soon realizes that what comes out of my mouth can sometimes read like a random stream of consciousness. I am told this is additionally hilarious at parties where alcohol is served REGARDLESS of whether or not I am even drinking at the time. 

And while I say it is a difficult question for many, for us there was only one answer – TELL. At first that was just to simplify our lives, to give a ready and open answer as to why at the time Ken may or may not be working full time, why we were curtailing our activities, why he was gone to so many appointments when people were stopping by (often to visit the kids in Canada in all fairness).

But it became more complicated when you look at the degree of openness… do we share that Ken is gone to appointments in a frantic bid to stop any and all suicidal thoughts and or intentions? Do we allow people to know that he was offered a voluntary entry into a hospital for however many hours because when he walked into the clinic he LOOKED like he was run through the wringer? Do we share that all those appointments are therapy and not just wellness checks? That he is looking at potentially a life long dependency (I hate that term…. maybe lifetime lifeline?) on a medication that helps correct the chemical imbalance in his brain? Do we share how close we may have come to losing one of the lynch pins in our family? Or do we just say “Ken is having a rough time of it so we got some help and are moving on”?

So what did we do? How did we decide? Well it wasn’t like we woke up one day and said HEY, let’s lay it all out! Rather it was a gradual opening up… That Ken was depressed was a no brainer… depression doesn’t only affect us… it affected everyone around us. And people were worried about us… we owed those we loved some sort of explanation now that we had it so they too could understand. And that is where it all began… we wanted people to understand. To this day all I want is for everyone to UNDERSTAND. This is because with understanding we can bring about learning and once people are educated on mental health and know the signs, know the harm ignoring it can cause, they can help. 

Illness is not something that makes you an island if you don’t let it. How do we deal with cancer? We create a support group, we pray for the person, send positive thoughts, offer help and a shoulder to cry one. How can we deal with depression/bipolar/anxiety? Funny enough, the exact same way. But… and this is a big and scary BUT… if we cannot open up and share the diagnosis, share the fragility of our soul and our health, share the fear of something so profoundly life changing… well how can the support system begin?

I say all this being married to a man who can come off as a bit of an extrovert, but is, in his soul of souls, an introvert. It was no easy feat to sit there and say… life has come to a halt… we have circled the wagons and changed our lives for something so huge and scary as an illness that we see no true end to. It will never be easy to meet a new friend/family/associate and know that if we want this relationship to grow and prosper we have to make a few honest statements… 

  1. Ken has a hearing disability (we use disability as the key term as it is quick and easy to grasp) so if he doesn’t seem to follow your conversation and it is noisy (say the pool at the YMCA where we love to be) it isn’t him being a jerk…
  2. We are currently dealing with mental illness. He is doing terrific but it is a process and as such we have a HUGE knowledge of the local mental health and wellness resources. In fact, I often share how blessed we are in our county.

Now not every acquaintance is given the second statement, work associates not so much, someone at church… no… but to make good friends we have to open ourselves up… to admit to weakness is truly a way to show strength… and I believe that wholeheartedly. Those of us who appear the weakest hold some of the greatest reserves of strength and growth. I want you to know our struggle because in knowing it you assist us, you give us the strength through acceptance and interest to educate you, to share with you and to possibly give you some of the tools to see others in the same situation and pass along the help to them.

I think we fear mental illness… we truly know so little about our brains in the overall grand scheme… how they work, how they break, how we utilize them. There is still so much to learn, to adapt to and to grow. And that is GOOD! That means there is hope for those who suffer, a future for those who wish to change and a present for us all to try and utilize more of. 

So do we share? Do we stand up and say… we may not look sick but we are? Do we share and say, “Hey I am dealing with depression” (either personally or through contact with another) and see if maybe, just maybe the other person says.. “Hey me too!”? Do we open up a little bit of ourselves to the public that is scary and sad and maybe a little shy and see if we can reach out to another? Do we stand up and admit we need help, we seek help and maybe in doing so we can give others help? 

I really hope the answer is yes. Do not feel like you are weak, you are strong. You have survived so much. Be it directly or indirectly we have all survived. Ken has found new ways to be the best he can be and in doing so opened some dialogues with others. I, myself have found that in talking openly about my experiences, about the diagnoses and about my feelings about it all I have heard stories and felt support I would never feel otherwise. It is scary and it is huge and at the same time it is small and it is but a step forward. One of many I will continue to take in order for my kids to see it is truly ok to not be ok right now. Because… we WILL be ok later… 

So once again… for those of you who suffer… don’t feel you have to be silent. I and my family are here to listen, to try and understand and maybe, just maybe, say ME TOO! And for those of you who support… THANK YOU! You are life changers and miracles and crucial to the process! 

If you want to read the other posts I have written on this topic I will link them here. They will open in new windows and there are 5 of varying topics THERAPY, FAMILY, THE HEALTHY ONE, THE CHILDREN, and PROGRESSIMAG1016

3 thoughts on “To Share or Not To Share…

  1. It’s nothing to hide. When I take my pills at work I tell them, “this one is so I don’t kill myself (antidepressant) and this one is so I don’t kill all of you… (anxiety pill) . Some people think it’s funny…

    I can relate to what you are dealing with. My answer was to not take it too seriously and to make light of it. You will have to find your answer that works for you.


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