It wasn’t that long ago, about 12 years, but I remember the shame and awkwardness I felt when I first walked out of the pharmacy with my prescription for Paxil. No one — and I mean no one — I knew had the illness. Cue increased feelings of inadequacy and questions of why I just couldn’t be like everyone else?
Of course, I’m far from the only one. An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it one of the most common diseases. It just wasn’t talked about, until recently. Though there is still a ton of work to be done on the accessibility and affordability of mental healthcare, the willingness of people to talk about their experiences helps others feels that they’re not alone.
Case in point: Popular YouTube vlogger Kayley Melissa gained 900,000-plus followers with her makeup and skincare tips, but her once-prolific publishing schedule waned in the past several months, leading fans to wonder what was up. In response, she uploaded a very personal video confessing her battle with anxiety and depression.
“You guys have probably noticed that I’ve been gone for a lot of 2015, and you’ve probably wondered why,” she said in the beginning of the video. “I was struggling a lot with severe depression and anxiety, and it completely sidelined me. I literally could not function. I couldn’t do anything.”
The feelings got so bad that she felt paralyzed with fear about creating videos — the very thing that she excels at and has built her career around.
“For some reason, I began to associate anxiety with my YouTube channel, and I became convinced in my deepest heart of hearts that if I uploaded a video to YouTube, everyone was going to hate it, and my career would be over,” she said. “It was so real to me that when I would even think about filming a video, I would get panic attacks.”
She’s back to publishing videos, though still at a less-frequent basis. However, sharing her story has touched followers who have thanked her for being so open. That’s exactly what we need to fight the stigma around mental illness — by making it known. Tell your story — to others, on social media — and you’ll undoubtedly help someone else tell theirs.