Depression is hard and emotionally taxing. That is a given. Something that makes our emotions even more complicated is trying to describe it to friends and loved ones who simply can’t seem to understand. How do you break the stigma that is attached with depression and other mood disorders? I have given this topic much thought. During the first year of my diagnosis I was ashamed to tell people that I was depressed, and hid it from everyone. By the second year I started to tell everyone and anyone. Now, seven years later, I realize that both were ways of using the stigma as an excuse. To put it simply depression had become my identity. I had withdrawn from college and adventure racing. These had been my two previous identities for more than three years.
What is it about the words Depression, Bipolar, or Mental Illness that makes many people cringe inside and out? Why does our culture look down upon people with mood disorders? These are lofty questions that I could only attempt to answer. Yet I would rather create a new stigma around mood disorders.
Elise gave me a pep talk because I was getting depressed and was unable to remind myself of what I stood for. It took some tears and emotional support to remember. Here are the words that led me to want to embark on this tour and help her create this nonprofit.
I, Jeremiah, stand for helping others(including myself) have joy and vitality in their lives.
The truth for me is that depression is a gift and blessing in disguise. The emotions accompanying it should not be repressed. The only thing that needs to be repressed is any stigma aimed towards people with mood disorders. It’s hard enough for us to bring joy to our lives, let alone others. This is why we decided to call our non for profit Ride Above Depression. In addition to assisting people with their depression, we are also helping put a stop to the stigma that exists.
The reality is that everyone stands for something more than their mood disorder label.