In case this is the first article you are reading on my blog – Hello, I’m Alexia, a Christian woman who also battles clinical depression. It’s a lot to unpack, but that is the point of this whole blog.
Moving on, when I was first diagnosed with depression 7 years ago, I really battled with who to tell. I was afraid of being looked at differently. I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. And I definitely didn’t want to lose anyone over the status of my mental health. It was something I kept under wraps for a very long time.
As time progressed, however, I learned it was super hard to hide something so big. I was sobbing every day, sleeping every day, not eating or eating everything, not participating in my normal activities, and just not behaving like myself. When I realized I couldn’t hide it any more, it then became the battle of “who to tell”. Depression is so weighty, hard to understand, and hard to be empathetic about, so I knew trying to decide who to tell was going to be a battle.
Because I’ve been there (and still am here in some ways), I wanted to share my list of people I feel like you should share your depression with so they can support you. If there are some people on this list that don’t apply to you, that’s fine. Or if you are in a spot where you don’t feel comfortable telling someone on this list, that’s totally fine too. Remember that this is your journey, your fight, your mental health. You should only allow people into it that you know you can trust with your heart.
1.) Your Parents – I’ll be honest, I was very worried about telling my parents about my depression. I held this fear in my heart that they wouldn’t “get it”. And I very much feel that they didn’t understand the depth of it until about a year ago. My mom came with me to therapy and my therapist helped me navigate having a conversation with my mom about what I was feeling, how that affected my life at home, and what support I needed. My mom communicated that to my dad and now it’s great knowing that they both have an understanding of the struggles I face. Telling them has made it easy for me to walk into their room and cry or tell them,” I’m just having a really hard day.”
2.) Some of your friends. Now let me say. I will be the first to say. Not all of your friends deserve to know your heart considering your depression. I can count on one hand how many of my friends know I have depression. Out of those people, I regret telling one. I thought I had to, not realizing that this was something very personal to me and required a certain level of empathy and care. With that being said, the other friends that know are amazing. They don’t treat me like a porcelain doll. We still go out, hang out, and I feel very relaxed with them knowing. I also want to note that time of friendship plays no part in deciding what friends to tell; the friendships I have with these people span from 15 years to 3 years. What matters is that you can trust your heart with them.
3.) Your manager/a Coworker. Yes, I know that you are looking at your screen like “is she crazy?” Maybe. I understand that some people have the worst relationships with their managers or they just don’t have the type of relationship where they feel comfortable sharing their heart. However, I am blessed enough to have a manager who is pretty cool. I decided I needed to have a conversation with her because my depression was affecting my work life. Work was normally an escape and distraction for me but when it became hard to work an entire workday, or when I would burst into tears at my desk, I knew it was time to have a conversation. I told her very plainly what was going on with me and since then, it’s made my life easier. Now, let me be clear, I do my job and I do it well. I do not use my depression as an excuse. However, sometimes, it becomes too much and I need to step away, take a break, or on the hardest days, leave. If you are starting to notice that your depression is creeping into your work life, consider telling your manager or at least a very trusted coworker. Sometimes you need support and some of those times, you may be at work.
4.) Your pastor. Now, I left this last because my pastor is the last person I told about having depression less than 6 months ago. He is very attentive and knows which pew you sit in at church and will text you if you were missing that day. His heart is pure and he puts God first but he also is very down to Earth and can offer support in the natural realm. I understand that not everyone has great relationships with their pastors, and if you don’t, you can always consider another faith leader in your church or someone you consider your faith mentor outside of your church community. I told my pastor because I was MIA for months and would come when I had to; when I didn’t have to, I stayed home without a second thought. However, after my mom brought the idea to my attention a couple of times, I decided having a meeting with him was the best idea. And honestly, it’s the best decision I’ve made. He allowed me to be honest with him, telling him why I wasn’t coming, what depression looks like for me, and how I was struggling in my faith because of it. And you know what? He didn’t bible thump me, he didn’t judge me, and he didn’t make me feel like a bad Christian because this is something I struggle with. It was the hardest conversation to have, but the most rewarding.
I pray that the list above helped you (at least a little), navigate who you should open your heart to considering your depression. Please know that again, this is your journey. You don’t have to tell everyone all at once. You don’t even have to tell everyone in that group. This is your story and you get to choose who you allow to be a part of your healing. Trust me, you want to trust the people that you tell and know that they will support you if you need it, hand you a tissue when you’re crying, sit in the room with you while you sleep, but rejoice with you when you’re having a good day. Even though I have been battling depression for 7 years, I still have this struggle. I still have to decide when new relationships come if this is a part of me that I want to share. This is an ever-changing journey so I pray that you find some people to share your heart with. You deserve the support.