This isn't contagious

This isn’t a contagious illness

Guest Author: Jenn

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I’m coming out of a seven-month depression. 

It’s important to me because this is a fight I fight every day.

Mental illness doesn’t go into remission. It’s always there. I have stretches of good times and longer stretches of tough times.

This last depression started when I sold my businesses and became unemployed. Right at the same time the economy in this town went to sh**. I spent three months looking for a job finally ending up at one of the call centres. The depression didn’t stop because I found a job. I put on the brave face and went to work every day. But inside I hated myself. I was starting over at 46 years old having to develop a resume and go on interviews.

Until the end, I didn’t want to be a burden to anybody.

I definitely wasn’t where I thought I would be at my age. I ignored my gardens, I ignored my friends, family and my dog. I didn’t care about anything. It was a chore getting out of bed every day. I went to work, came home and changed into my pyjamas and stayed on the couch. It didn’t matter that friends and family were calling. In my mind, I would be dead by Christmas. Which was fine. My family was coming home for the holidays and they wouldn’t have to make a special trip for my funeral. Until the end, I didn’t want to be a burden to anybody.

More than anything I quit my Rotary group. Just when I should have stayed in, I couldn’t handle going to the lunches. I was ashamed that I was unemployed. I cried all the time. I knew that my fellow Rotarians would be supportive. But I didn’t want to be another burden. Another thing on their lists of things to deal with. I didn’t trust them. This is such a huge part of my life I feel like I’m living a lie most days. And I live in terror of losing the friends I have. I know that seems like I don’t have faith in them sticking around but I’ve been burned before with friends leaving me as soon as they found out.

I haven’t told anybody I work with about my illness. I don’t want to lose them as colleagues just at the time that we’re getting to know each other. I don’t want to see the reaction of most people –ignoring it or silence. But once again I’m tired of being in the closet. 

Now if I get an interview I never know if I should bring it up or not and no one has asked me.

The only thing a person with mental illness needs is patience and understanding. Patience when I don’t feel like going out. Patience when I don’t respond to text messages. Understanding my illness and how it affects the way I behave.

I still think that having this illness is my fault. I don’t have a reason for it. I was brought up with everything I needed; my parents are still married, I was never abused. On good days, I can remember that this a chemical problem, like diabetes. I don’t blame people for having diabetes. But I constantly blame myself that I have this illness.

This isn’t a contagious illness.

One in five people suffer from a mental illness. Which means this affects everyone.

Family, friends, colleagues, the stranger on the street. And all people need is education. It’s such a simple fix. This isn’t a contagious illness. All it needs is understanding. I am still the same person that you know. Just with some quirks.

You go into remission, but it always comes back. Small things that make a difference – like the phone call, text or going for coffee. Be patient – sometimes people are tired, and it takes a long time to come back. It’s a fight every day.

For now, I’m still alive.



This is me, yesterday, today and probably tomorrow. It’s hard. And now my wife doesn’t know if she can “do this anymore”
I don’t blame her, I can be nasty when I’m going through a depression. I can’t stand myself.
My son and dad died on the same day five years apart.

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