Having written two books, I know what it would take to write another one.
However, the first two books were not personal. At least not in the same way as what I am currently contemplating. One book is on basic management and the other focuses on what you need to get hired. In each book, I gave personal STARS; examples of situations I encountered, the actions I took, and the responses or outcomes.
The examples of my management and hiring shortfalls and successes are easy to share.
The personal information is common to the situation, and I do not see it as really sharing my feelings. I share examples from my past that could help others learn from my mistakes or benefit from my insights. Further, I was and am confident in the decisions I make to solve problems within company policy. And I am confident in my hiring advice, having shared it in my business for over 12 years. Plus, I have been using my hiring tools for over 35 years, and they still produce results.
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So why am I afraid of authoring a book about my depression?
The idea has been creeping into the front of my brain for almost 3 years. I will admit, when I first left 5 East, there wasn’t much I was thinking about. Mostly, it was getting through the day. After that, it was making an excuse to go to bed early. At least in bed, I felt safer than in other places.
And that feeling of safety was fleeting for a long time after my diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder with suicidal ideations.
At the time, I wanted to learn everything I could about my depression. How it worked, why it worked, and how I could face it. I did not realize until I forced my way into the hospital that there were tools, I could use to make my life with depression more manageable.
I have learned so much since my 5 East experience.
Yet, I feel as if I haven’t learned enough. I do know that no matter how much I learn about depression, in my case, it will never completely go away. Depression is rampant on my side of the family. Direct relatives have lived with depression. Some have been more successful than others in living day-to-day. But all had the courage to keep going, to do those things they had to do for family.
I am immensely proud of all my family and their abilities to keep going under sometimes extreme depression.
So, I want to live up to their example. This has led me on a path of exploration. I have sought out tools, techniques, clinical studies, and broad philosophies. All of these are helping me draw a big picture view of my depression and my life with it.
I would best describe my relationship with depression as high functioning.
When I need to go to work, I do. If I need to be somewhere for an event, I am there. Now that doesn’t mean I need to invest an entire evening into a social event. In fact, my style is to do a drive-by. I show my face, say hi to people I know, and get the heck out of there. The last time I stayed to the end of a party, I was in college.
Back to my writing another book, I think the stigma of having a mental health issue has frightened me away.
My depression throws an unhelpful thinking style at me, and I shy away from the book idea. If I share my experiences in a book, I will have to worry about what they will say. And while I am not sure who they are, they must surely be out there, or depression would not have told me so. Writing this out, I can see how ludicrous this line of thinking is.
But the stigma of mental health issues is real.
And as supportive as many people will be, there will be those who do not understand and will at best, avoid me. Or worse, will make my work-life problematic. I suppose this is what has my attention. How will my co-workers take the news?
And now I am back to “it’s all about me.”
Heck, they have their own lives to live. Everyone carries around problems, and everyone has a back story. Spending a few minutes truly listening to my employees and managers, they share the worries they carry with them. Some are less serious than others, but everyone is carrying something with them. So why would I think that all eyes will be on me if I share my story?
I must remember, I have shared over 460 public blog posts related to my personal experience with depression.
My blog is public because I no longer wanted to hide behind depression. My goal is to bring my depression out in the open, so it cannot swallow me as it has in the past. By honestly writing about my depression, I am working through everything depression has thrown at me over at least 50 years.
Having depression for over 50 years is a long, long, time.
And until 5 East, my goal was to never, ever face it. The idea was to get it behind me, sweep what was left under the rug, and walk away as if nothing had happened. And I did that in a major way at least four times. I felt like I got away with it, but I am sure the truth was different.
Now I am confronting myself, seeing if I can let go of my fear and share my story.
Despite my fear of stigma and the dreaded what will they say, I am going ahead with my draft of my book. I can pull up and not commit to publishing it at any time. So, I really do not have anything to lose by writing it. If I chicken out and depression wins, I will still have done the work.