A fellow German blogger wrote about depression recently, and asked why it's still such a stigma, and why so many afflicted people don't admit to it openly, like they do to other illnesses.
I just reread Kay Redfield Jamison's excellent biography "An Unquiet Mind", and something she said struck me as part of the answer to Liisa's question. Jamison, who's a psychiatrist, recounts telling a colleague about her own manic-depressive illness:
"A soft-spoken psychoanalyst, he was someone I was in the habit of getting together with for a morning coffee. Less frequently, but enjoyably, we would go out for a long lunch and talk about our work and our lives. After some time, I began to feel the usual discomfort I tend to feel whenever a certain level of friendship or intimacy has been reached in a relationship and I have not mentioned my illness. It is, after all, not just an illness, but something that affects every aspect of my life: my moods, my temperament, my work, and my reactions to almost everything that comes my way. Not talking about manic-depressive illness, if only to discuss it once, generally consigns a friendship to a certain inevitable level of superficiality."
So very true.
Depression "affects every aspect of your life". It's not just a physical thing, like a broken bone, a missing limb, or cancer. It's part of your personality, of your mind, of what makes you the person you are. And opening up about it is telling something very personal about yourself. Something I would surely tell my friends. But also something I would not want everybody to know. Because I want to choose how far I let people into my life. And there are lots of people I would not want to be so close, and have such intimate knowledge of me.
On a side note - if you, or people you know, suffer from depression, read "How To Heal Depression" by Harold Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams. It's a wonderful book, and has helped me immensely in my own struggles with the black hole. I will forever be grateful to my physician for recommending it, and I recommend it to everybody too.
You can even read the whole thing online, like all of McWilliams' books. Something I am extremely grateful for.