Years ago, I’d take my daughter to the park where I met other moms who asked me what I did. I always just told them I was a stay-at-home mom. If someone asked me that today, my answer would be slightly different. What do I do? I do a lot of things. I stay at home with my kids, I read, write, and I exercise six days a week. However, I think the real question for all of us should not be what we do, but who we are. Just like there is more than one thing I do, there is a lot that makes me who I am. I am a woman. I am a mom—a single mom of two beautiful children. I am a reader, a writer, an exercise enthusiast. I am a nature lover and a chocolate lover. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I have mental illness. While it is not the whole of who I am, while it cannot single-handedly limit or define me, it is a part of who I am.
Saying you have mental illness shouldn’t be any different than someone saying they have cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis or any other illness. Yet for some reason it is. There is still such a stigma attached to it, so much people don’t understand—don’t want to understand. I would love to be able to change that. I don’t know if I can or will, but if I can help even one person in any way, this blog would be more than worth it.
Twice a year the church I belong to holds a big conference where our leaders speak to us. I think it was a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, an apostle for the church, that first inspired this idea to start a blog opening a discussion on mental illness. I mulled the thought over in my mind, thinking it was a good idea, but never doing anything about it. Next conference, Elder Holland inspired me again, but I kept doubting myself. Really, what did I have to offer anyone? Then this past April, hearing Elder Holland speak yet again inspired me, and I decided it was time to do something—I started writing, I talked to friends, and I looked up other blogs on mental illness. That’s when the doubt crept back in. All these other people seemed to have so much more knowledge, experience, qualifications and better advice than I could ever give. Suddenly my idea, my words, seemed so insignificant.
Yet something kept pushing me. Maybe it was the Spirit—the thing our church believes inspires and guides us. Or maybe it was just my own desire to find a way to break the silence on mental illness. Silence—it’s what my name means. It comes from the latin name Tacita which means silence. When I discovered this in high school and told my mom, she said it was fitting. I was a very quiet person who rarely spoke. It took several months before I could tell my parents about my depression because how do you tell someone about the darkness you live with every day? Well, now I’m talking about it. I won’t live in silence anymore. It’s been almost twenty years since I was first diagnosed with depression. That’s a long time and many experiences that have shaped my life—time and experiences that shouldn’t have to sit in darkness and silence.
So I write this blog as a woman, who is a single mom, who reads and writes and exercises a lot and belongs to the LDS church. And while opening a discussion on mental illness is my main goal, I will also likely write about other experiences or lessons I have learned in life. Hopefully, some day in some way some of it will make a difference to someone. I also hope that others will join in. Leave comments, share your stories, ideas, resources that have helped you. Let’s break the silence together. As I said, if even only one person is touched or helped by this, then it will definitely have been worth it.