Tell me honestly, do you think of a person differently when they admit to having suffered from depression?
Because, most people do.
They may look at you with pity and compassion. Or, they may patronize you. Some even betray looks of glee, cynicism and discomfort. They look at you with a filter that has so far only been described as stigma, but I’d say it is in the nature of all prejudice – fear of the unknown. You keep away from it, because you don’t understand it.
I wrote a book based on this blog from June to October last year. I wanted to release it in October, but wasn’t sure of it. I kept it aside. I went back to the manuscript last month. It is a compilation of essays, some tried and tested here, some unseen. I discuss diverse topics here, but had reasoned (to myself) that the book, at least, should have a connective theme running through it. The theme I chose was ‘existential crisis’. Not the defining thread of this blog in the two years that I’ve been writing it, but a repetitive one. I was surprised by how much of that I had worked into my essays. It almost read like a plea for help, even though I wasn’t asking for help.
Since then, I’ve been debating whether I should leave the ‘depression’ essays out. My reasons are:
1. This book is intentioned for those who don’t read my blog. This includes family, friends, strangers, anyone and everyone who’d express interest in wanting to read a book by me. Whether we admit it or not, we always look at books with a pair of critical eyes. Even if we’re reading a non-fic on someone’s struggle with something, we’re still looking at elements like credibility, expression, not to mention the judgements we form on anybody writing about themselves. That is not the book I am writing. I am writing a book as a creative expression, not to work out my life, or put my feelings in words. I’m not passing any judgement on those who do, but it is not what I set out to do. Not right now.
2. It might be the only thing people take away from the book, and it might become the only thing that people think of me as a writer. Depression won’t just be something I’ve suffered from, it might become the thing I’m pigeonholed into. Positively or not. I’m bound to have some readers who won’t enjoy my book, but I’d rather they didn’t enjoy the book because it was badly written, than because I wrote badly about things that matter to me. On the other hand, if I wrote well, I’d have to face heightened interest, the kind of interest that would be legitimate in someone who is a professional, like a doctor or a therapist, or someone prominent in public life, who has things to say about the subject. I don’t. I only sometimes write about my experiences and ideas on it, but I’m not an expert. I have more questions than answers, and it is not a subject I am particularly curious about, but it is one among many.
3. Most of all, my life is my business. No one, whether I know them personally or not, is allowed to critique any aspect of it, ever. I have considered removing all depression-related essays from this blog, simply because I am not as anonymous as I used to be before. I’ve made friends here, and removed much of the anonymity as I felt safer to share my self more. I’ve NEVER written about my personal life, and I never will. People in my life do not read my blog, but it is not an open secret anymore, especially with a book on the horizon. I’ve never earned a dime from this blog, but I know it is a commodity. It is a consumable object, every word written here has helped me further in devising a book that shall be for sale. But, my life, my emotions, are not a commodity.
I have considered putting all my depression-related essays together as a PDF on my blog here, so that anybody who is interested can download them for free. I am not ashamed of having suffered from anxiety and depression, or talking about it with someone who can relate to it. But, I have a lot of hurt, a number of painful experiences that have caused it, hurt which I haven’t overcome. I can imagine a delightful, little, negative review on Amazon going, “What unreadable drivel. Couldn’t get through the long paragraphs. Who does she think she is, Oprah? One star, and that’s me being generous.” Which would be fine by me, because that is the comfort of strangers – they don’t know you.
Therefore, I would be grateful if you could answer the question: Do you think of a person differently when they admit to having suffered from depression? I am not fishing for comments or likes here. The feedback could really help me.