About a year ago I started this blog for a few reasons. After a long battle with depression, I finally was forced to face my demons during a year of intensive therapy. I rediscovered myself, my feelings, my creativity and how much fun life can be. At the end of my therapy, I decided to start blogging to inspire myself to keep fluttering through life like a butterfly, to travel and be creative.
More importantly, in therapy I learned to be honest with myself and my emotions. Until then, I was a master in pretending that everything was fine, or even better that everything was just perfect. I was not only fooling people around me, but most of all myself. Ignoring my emotions until they became so strong that they could no longer be denied, sweeping me into yet another depression.
Nowadays, I can no longer lie to myself or others. Being honest with myself has become second nature. So, when my company doctor advised me not to talk to my colleagues about my struggle with depression and my therapy, I gave it a shot. But I abandoned that strategy very quickly. I do not feel ashamed of my journey. It has made me who I am now and a depression is a disease which you can beat. So why hide it? I’m not constantly spreading the word, but when people ask me about it, I tell them honestly. And I must say, all reactions have been positive. With this blog I want to contribute to bringing psychological diseases out into the open. I hope to inspire others to fight and beat their depression, by letting them know they are not alone and it’s okay to struggle. You can get through the dark times and enjoy life again.
About being honest, the last couple of months I haven’t made time to blog. I could think of a million excuses why I didn’t blog. But to be honest, I guess my reasons for blogging dropped from the top of my priority list. Over the last half year, my focus has shifted to getting my career back on track. I love my job and despite my long absence from work I’m getting awesome opportunities which demand my focus. I’m extremely thankful for this and proud of it! However, old mistakes are looming around the corner. My job does not define me and I need to take care that it doesn’t consume me. The last and maybe most important reason for me to blog is to remind myself, not just others, of the mindful way of living I became accustomed to during therapy. So, me not blogging over the last couple of months could be a sign of loosing myself in all the awesome opportunities my job has to offer.
Over the last few weeks, I was searching for inspiration to start blogging again. Last week, I saw a very inspirational interview in Pauw en Witteman, a Dutch talk show, with Peter van Uhm (former commander-in-chief of the Dutch army) and sergeant major Patrick Kaslander. Patrick Kaslander has been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) since he came back from his last mission to Afghanistan, having witnessed platoon members being injured and killed by a roadside bomb. As a medic he was the first to give medical treatment to the victims. Now, he has trouble leaving his house for a walk around the block, fearing the enemy in every bush and behind every tree.
According to former commander-in-chief Peter van Uhm 20% of all veterans suffer from PTSS. Despite the large number of veterans suffering from PTSS it still is a taboo in the army to talk about it. Therefor, it’s hard for a lot veterans to get the right treatment. The army is investigating new types of treatment. One of these treatments is service dogs for veterans. These dogs help the veterans to trust their surroundings again. Experiences with using service dogs to treat veterans with PTSS in the USA and Canada are positive. Peter van Uhm is an ambassador for service dogs for veterans in the Netherlands and recently has provided Patrick Kaslander with his service dog Figo.
Figo has given Patrick Kaslander his life back. He can walk around his block again and even join his wife doing the groceries. This might sound silly, but I remember vividly how being able to comfortably do my grocery shopping was a milestone in my recovery. The “beauty” of this story is that the son of Peter van Uhm was one of the soldiers that were killed in the roadside bomb that Patrick Kaslander witnessed. Now, they are fighting together to tell the world that PTSS is nothing to be ashamed of. That takes a lot of guts. Especially for Patrick Kaslander who is still struggling with his disease.
This interview reminded me of my mission of being open about depression and letting the world know its just a disease and nothing to be ashamed of. So I’m back to blogging. Thank you, Patrick Kaslander and Peter van Uhm for being my inspiration!
What have you been ashamed of? And who was you’re source of inspiration to let go of the shame?