I have this kind of informal mission statement…

“Let’s go on Facebook, see what medication Erin’s on today,” said my boss with a smile as he opened up his laptop. “You know, you really should be careful about what you post on here. What is it again, that you take? Abilah…”

“Abilify,” I answered, pulling up a chair.

I thought about what he said all day, even as my brain filled to bursting with the exhilarating information overload that comes with starting a new, exciting job. I thought about it as I looked for apartments with the nuttiest realtor I’ve ever met, and I thought about it as I snaked homeward down the southeast expressway.

It’s not a new thought, that I should be a little less candid. Nobody needs to know what medications I take, nobody needs to know that I went to McLane, nobody needs to know my history, or my struggles, or my triumphs. But I think it’s important to break stereotypes and foster open dialogue. There’s still so much shame associated with being mentally ill, and so much stigma attached to taking medication to mitigate its effects, that I sometimes think EVERYONE who’s been depressed should start a blog. At least then we’d know we were in good company.

I’m a highly functioning person. Even when I was actively depressed, I was a highly functioning person. Even when I got to the point of being suicidal, I was operating on a level that most people would find acceptably, even extremely, productive. I was hired to my first industry job when I was 22, when I was 26 I had a co producer credit on a multi-million PBS documentary, and between 27 and 30 I devoted myself to learning every aspect of production and post. My entire resume was built on the back of my unmedicated depression. Because of the stigma, I was incredibly reluctant to “cave in” and take the pills my on-again, off-again therapists would try to prescribe.

My life is so much better now that I’ve caved.

I know that potential employers will likely google me and find all of this, and I know that this might one day hinder my job search efforts. My blog comes up on the first page, it’s not like you have to dig very far. But this candor is not something I’ve done without thinking, considering, and weighing the options. In the end, I come out with this:

I held all this in for so long, lived in shame, and when I was in my darkest moments I felt so alone. I thought nobody else (except CRAZY people) could possibly feel the way I was feeling.

Guess what. I’m not crazy. Neither are you. But we feel these ways sometimes. And there’s no shame in taking steps to make yourself better.

7 Responses to I have this kind of informal mission statement…

  1. Harvette says:

    Oh I like this so much. I think you are awesome.

    Like

  2. Tom says:

    Good post. I think you should only be honest about things you care about. and, since this is LIFE we’re talking about, I’m unreservedly supportive.

    Like

  3. Golden says:

    thank you

    Like

  4. Julia says:

    thumbs up.
    if someone doesn’t want to hire you for being honest about your story, then it’s not someone you want to work for.

    Like

  5. Ivori says:

    High five sister! There is no shame in being yourself. If you can walk down the street with your head held high and not hide from people in public, then there is no reason to cower down or feign embarrassment here. Thank you for being you!

    Like

  6. tobeannounced says:

    A lot of people are grateful for the experiences you’ve shared. It’s definitely important!

    Like

  7. Caryl Leeds says:

    Erin, I have been fairly open to people about what I have been through in the past 2 years (not on fb though) and I am shockingly surprised that 75% of the people I talk to have gone through the same thing – depression, anxiety, etc. Maybe not to the extent I/we have but they too have suffered. By talking to other people and being honest makes me feel better.

    Hope all is well. xoxo c

    Like

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