“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.