You don’t have to be loud to be heard.

Hi, reader. I know you’re there, taking in my words. Even if you never comment. Even if you never tell anyone that you read Honest Mom. Or that you’ve been going to therapy or on antidepressants for years.

I know what I write is reaching you. And I want you to know something.

It’s okay to be quiet about dealing with depression. It’s totally okay.

Today’s Internet celebrates the loud and proud. Sometimes the ones who attract all the attention aren’t worth the fifteen seconds it took to read the BuzzFeed article they were featured in.

But sometimes the vocal are celebrated for good reason. A bunch of brave depression warriors come to mind: Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess. Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress. Cristi Comes at Motherhood Unadorned. Erin Margolin on her beautiful blog.

They are just a few of the women who are putting themselves out there very publicly, letting everyone know they deal with depression in an effort to lift the stigma of this misunderstood mental health issue.

Me? I write about depression all over the interwebs and in print, but I’m somewhere in the middle of quiet and loud, really. I don’t attach my face to my blog or use my married name. I don’t tell tons of people “in real life” about Honest Mom. I turn down local media opportunities and don’t do many local events. I do this to give my kids and husband some privacy, and to keep from attracting unwanted attention in my small town.

I’ll write, I’ll chat on social media, and I’ll even speak at the Blog U conference this summer, but all in all? I hang back a little. It’s my way, and I’m comfortable with it.

But what I want you all to know, all of you who are quiet about your depression, is that if you don’t feel comfortable telling the world about what you deal with and prefer to keep it between you and your therapist, that’s 100% okay.

I think the concept of being a private person has lost value in our selfie society, a culture in which breakups play out over Snapchat and attention-seeking Facebook statuses beg for commentary. Being quiet about personal stuff does not make you a coward. It makes you a private person. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

However – being quiet about depression doesn’t mean you can’t help others. Loud and proud isn’t required to make a difference. Quiet and strong works, too.

You can reach out to a woman you have a feeling is dealing with the same stuff you are, and say I understand. I am here to listen. I get what you’re going through. Even if you help one person with depression feel not so alone, that’s amazing. Possibly life-saving. And that one life matters.

It takes all types to battle the stigma of depression. Loud, public advocates. Quiet, supportive fighters. And people somewhere in between, like me.

Let’s make a resolution together to quietly reach out to at least one woman this year who we think is battling depression. A mom in your playgroup, a neighbor, a coworker who hasn’t been herself. One person.

And if you keep your resolution, I’ll keep writing. Deal?

I’ll take your silence as a yes.

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25 Replies to “You don’t have to be loud to be heard.”

  1. Beautifully stated. I’m so appreciative of your bravery, which has inspired me to be as honest as I dare on my own blog. These are tricky waters to navigate when you’re determined to help others and make a difference to lift the stigma, but rightfully concerned about how you and your family will then be viewed. And you make a fair point about privacy. There is too little of it kept these days, for the most part, when so much life is lived and shared on social media (though often for good reason, such as staying connected with family far away). Balance, as always, is hard.

  2. You make such a good point. In our society people think that they need to know everything about everyone at all times. With so much social media and technology, why not? Some people are just not comfortable sharing every detail, and others are upset if they can’t know every detail. The key is definitely finding a tribe or even one person you can trust. Thanks for being such a safe place for so many! xo

  3. I adore this post! I applaud all the women you stated in your piece and the countless others who so bravely share their struggles, it really helps to know you are not alone. But I too think there is a space for those who choose to be more private in their struggle. I have always admired how you straddle the private and public. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for writing this!
    I go up and down. Some days I’m fine, then others I just feel trapped and defeated. I must carry on for the kids.
    I had a friend, who we used to share and help each other. Then she moved on. And I’m not sure why, but it seems it put me into a severe depression. It’s hard to be battling issues in your life, then find a rainbow only to chase it and see there was nothing there but an illusion. So I’m left just me, I guess I need to reach out more. Maybe my kids are here so I can reach out to them. My husband and I don’t get along that well. That makes it seem like I’m stuck, which leads to more sadness. I feel the life force is sucked out of me some days. But if we can see this is it. It’s either this or 6 feet under. So reaching out is such a nice thing. I just don’t think I’ll ever have a true friend again. This life is full of great things. Maybe we need more nature, more travel, more cuddling our kids, more bonding with other kids, more gratefulness. Maybe it’s supposed to be really hard. Maybe the tears flooding our eyes are worth something. Self care is going to be my new focus. Lets all try to take care of ourselves. Love ourselves. ( yuck ) Treat ourselves right, so that we can better take care of the families we have. I think depression comes from many things, but I still keep thinking something might be missing-which causes depression. If you know what it is, and it can’t be replaced. Then self care might help be the bridge. Because depression feels like you’re broken in so many pieces, or so many pieces are missing or upside down. So I agree lets reach out to another person, how about we also try to care for ourselves too. Your idea sounds better. Loneliness is also part of it all- which leads to more sadness.
    I hope we all can rebuild, help one another, and also take better care of ourselves. Peace

  5. This is an excellent post JD because, besides dealing with my own depression, sometimes I forget to look past how someone is acting and wonder if maybe they are depressed and not just being stand-offish or anti-social. I’m not great at being the first one to reach out and start a conversation but I need to do it more often and offer to listen when they need it.

  6. I don’t suffer from depression, but this post spoke to me anyway. I think the same can be said with any aspect of life–you don’t have to be loud to be heard. And that means that the small things I do in my life make a difference as much as the big things that I do. Thanks for this post. Beautiful!

  7. I hid my depression from everyone at first, but now a few know. I tried therapy and meds, but I’ve decided to just let it be and try natural remedies. And it’s working, but I still have my days. Lately, those days have happened a lot.

    I actually want to start talking about post-partum depression on my new blog to help others like you do. You were the one to get me to open up about it to more people, and I surprisingly had a good response from everyone I told. I can only imagine what spilling it all online can do to help others deal with their own struggles. I love you for doing this!

  8. First, thank you for mentioning me. To be included in that list of women is humbling. I’m actually in a weird place right now and haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks. There are phases when I feel vulnerable in the sharing. I know it’s important so I always tend to step back up to it. I’m sure I always will be I agree that the voice doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. In fact, I really don’t feel that loud most of the time. Bit I think and hope it helps others. Thanks JD!

  9. I love this idea JD! I know so may women that I can reach out to. Obviously I do it every day at work, but in addition. There are tons of people in my life, it hits so many people! I’m in, I am all in!

  10. Thanks for giving me the ability to look at my own life and say, yes u have depression and don’t be ashamed to say u do. I have learned a lot from u! Thank u!

  11. Love your blog! I am planning to join the voices battling the stigma of depression and other mental illnesses this year. I am starting a blog and stumbled across yours as I look to see what’s out there already. This post is great and speaks to some of my concerns about sharing. I’m torn – privacy vs. letting myself be seen as a real life example of someone who lives with depression? I think that could be really helpful. I want people to know this is just one part of me and I am many other things as well.

  12. It’s taken me many years to be comfortable admitting to myself that depression is real and that I suffer from it. I love your support of the quiet fighter and letting people know that being supportive can come in many forms.

    Thanks for the bravery!


  13. My rage is hurting my girls, I know it is. But they’re not listening, they just cry or whine, and don’t listen. We all are hating living together at this point, I’m sure. Someone’s always whining or yelling, or crying, if not all at the same time……. I’m so tired of hearing such well put together moms telling me how fun it is to have twins, and so on. I’m exhausted, and some days I’m sure I don’t even do much, but I’m still exhausted. Therapist? Can’t, no time for me to go, and I’m sure we can’t spare the money for the copay… I’ve got to run this kid to the dentist, that one to the orthodontist, that one to the oral surgeon, oh and did I mention the DH lives 6 hours away right now due to that wonderful thing we call the military. And no, I don’t have any friends or family here because we just up and moved here. And yes, they assume I’m strong enough to deal with it all and if not I better suck it up and find a way to be. And if I take a morning while the girls are at pre-k and go for a 6 mile walk, I must have all kinds of time on my hands to help them with things that they are perfectly able to do themselves but why can’t they do it? I’m really not sure why they can’t.
    What’s the “put together mom” ‘s secret? I’d sure like a dose of whatever it is she’s using to continue to be supermom. It’s lonely here and I’m not the only one suffering the consequences of it, my girls are too and I don’t know how to help myself so I can help them.

  14. Just stumbled across this blog from a Google search. Hoping to find a line of hope in your writings. Was fired from a dream job more than a year ago, and an hour before I was involved in a car accident with a deer where I struggled to regain control of my fishtailing SUV. I have two children who are now 3 and 4.5. I had been taking antidepressants since the birth of my 1st child, but I've always had an underlying depression. I came off antidepressants in February because I felt strongly that those sharp corners in my life–the ones which were dulled to a level of toleration through medication–I needed to feel, in order to make some necessary decisions. I filed for divorce and sole custody in June. We have since come to a more amicable schedule concerning the children, but we are in the thick of it all–and I have found myself penniless and living with my parents whom are not in the best of health, themselves.

    I look forward to reading through your posts, and possibly finding a guiding light through this dense fog. I know that in the past year, the moments I have felt the most contentment and sincere enthusiasm have been when I have finished handwriting specific creative stories which were based on true experience. One day I want to help my children meet me there in the place of my own joy, but for now that place has been quite solitary in nature.

    My struggle is to bond with my children through THEIR joy. Of course, I conjure enthusiasm for moments of their days… But much of the time recently I just feel like my lack of interest turns me sour for them. That is the part which brings much shame, as I KNOW this is NOT me. It is the depression. I am buried just beneath it and can see breaks of light, but I notice recently I am terribly frustrated in my attempt to reach their source.

    With depression, sometimes the line which extrapolates out from both the places of how we WANT to feel and how we ACTUALLY feel differ SO greatly, that the gap between the two becomes the crack through which our bond with loved ones slip through…

    I cannot let that be with my sweet boys. They need to know that I am in there, somewhere, and that they are wholly loved. They deserve the best of me, and I deserve the best of my own life.

  15. Hi. I luckily, i want to say, found your blog looking for a blog by mothers going through depression, anxiety and all that it brings to you and the family. I hope to find encouraging messages here… not the scary stuff…

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