I have depression. It is one word, but so hard to say it without the fear of being stigmatized.

I finally broke free of keeping what I was feeling inside after my colleagues recognized something wasn’t—and hadn’t been—right for some time with me. But I just never wanted to admit it until a stressful incident involving my mom was the final straw.

I had been thinking of my dad who died some 19-years-ago for some time, not sleeping properly waking up in middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep, and to top it off actually had lost interest in my job, as the voice for your community as a reporter with The Weekly Press/The Laker. This has been going on for four to six months—maybe even longer.

Shortly after I wrote a lengthy email to my editor telling her of how I had been feeling. She was there and continues to have my back as I seek treatment.

Since coming forward and admitting I wasn’t myself and seeking help, telling people about how I have been feeling and being around friends has been very beneficial in making me feel much better.

The one thing I have got from telling people about this has been the same – that it, like many other mental health illnesses, needs to be talked about more, instead of kept inside. People like myself, who goes about his job daily putting on a smile, when really inside we were hurting and not ourselves.

There are more people than we know who has some form of mental health illness, specifically depression, but fail to recognize it. They only do when it’s too late and no help can help them, and unfortunately they do harm to themselves resulting in far too often times death.

And that’s where we need to focus and work at it.

Since getting diagnosed, the only change that I have made is I am taking prescribed medication that is aimed to help me. I recognized I needed help and finally sought it, after being nagged on—or pushed—by my colleague. I am ever thankful for that nagging, even if I don’t like them.

My biggest fear in letting people know that I had been diagnosed with depression was the response that would come, expecting negative feedback more than positive. I was worried. I didn’t want to be treated differently than I have been because I was “sick”. But the positive responses I have received from telling people have been a welcome change.

That’s why I feel it’s important to write this. To show people that even those you may not expect to have a mental illness, they do. That there is help out there for you. That you don’t have to deal with it alone.

Unfortunately, for far too many it comes too late, and that is something we need to change. I hope me coming forward with my diagnosis can help someone else know that they too can do the same.

  • Pat Healey