Last night I joined @Gen_Twenty for their Twitter Chat.
If you ask my friends and family they will tell you I am a constant source of inspiration. I always have a smile on my face and I am the first to turn a negative situation into something positive. My colleagues from Gap always looked to me for what I call #PowerOfPositiveThinking moments. We would get visits from our DM or high level executives and everyone would scurry around worried, but not me. As a manager or leader I knew the calm presence was all the employees needed to do their job like it was any other day. Again, I was always throwing out positive phrases and the person they would turn to when they were stressed or worried.
What everyone didn't know was at that time and for a while before that I was battling my own inner demons. My anxiety has been high for the last four years. I masked the depression with Happy Hours, excuses as to why I bailed on friends, eating, and just ignoring my family and friends any chance I had.
Did they know? Was I really good at hiding? Did they care? I don't know if they knew and if they did we didn't talk about it. I still don't talk about it that much. This post is extremely out of my comfort zone. I don't know who will read this. I don't know if they will contact me.
What I do know, especially from last nights chat, I am not alone. There is no reason to hide. There is no reason to be ashamed. We have to talk about Mental Illness. We have to share our experiences. We have to be open.
I've seen a therapist in the past. I believe it is time to see one again. I can make the excuse that being out of work I can't afford it. Or my health insurance doesn't cover it. But the only person who will suffer will be me.
I can tell everyone else to stay positive. I can always laugh. I can always smile and act like everything is OK. In reality it isn't and until I really open up I am only hurting myself.
This post was extremely hard to write. I am currently wiping away tears. People in Starbucks are staring at me. It's going to be OK. I have amazing friends and family. I have an amazing support system.
I hope you understand Mental Illness is serious. Please don't judge someone who may be suffering. For all you know they could be suffering alone.