© 2015 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com
When I posted last (Semicolons), I remarked how hard it was for me to actually push the publish button and that resistance has bothered me.
I first read about the Semicolon Project in June and I found it very intriguing and started thinking about getting one of those tattoos. It nagged at me all summer and finally became somewhat of a compulsion. It was a little after lunch one day when I committed to getting one and had it done right after work.
I really haven’t explained to anyone what it symbolizes and I find myself very hesitant to do so, avoiding any questions about it from family and friends. And it is for a single, sad reason that I have done so.
I must admit that I still consider my depression is a personal weakness, a character flaw.
I touched on this a little with a post after the 2014 MedX conference where I described that I didn’t feel worthy being on the same stage as those with chronic physical pain. What I really need to express, I believe, is how prevalent and powerful the stigma of any mental illness is. And how it was still deeply ingrained in my persona despite how much I have written about it and how deeply personal some of those public posts have been. (You should see the ones I haven’t hit publish on.)
There’s a lot of anonymity when you are safely typing behind the keyboard. On the MedX panels, I was more exposed, but there is still a huge difference between talking to people about depression and talking with them about mine. But I think I held back because I really didn’t want people to know how weak I was.
There arises my dilemma, saying to myself and others that mental illness is not a weakness but instead a medical condition no different from any other chronic illness but then not truly believing that somewhere deep inside.
Someplace I didn’t really know, or admit to myself maybe, I needed to look. And when I did? I really didn’t like what I saw looking back at me.
I think that this is one of the reasons I had pulled so far back from my advocacy activities. It wasn’t that I’ve lost my passion as much as it was deciding if I was really going to do more than give lip service to what I was professing.
This is something of a major internal battle for me, trying to root out a long-standing, deeply held belief that stigmatized mental illness. Actually getting that tattoo forced this battle into the forefront of my mind, helping me understand that the war inside my head for my heart and soul is still being fought.