Every Time I Talk About Depression – Being Brave

Just Chris Brogan

Sometimes, I tweet about being depressed, or I post to some various social network about how depression stinks. In those moments, the same thing happens, and I realized that I haven’t been very clear in what I’m trying to say when I want to talk to you about depression. I’m trying to share something very specific.

People With Depression Can Be Successful

Read that sentence again. I’m not saying that successful people can be depressed, though that’s true. I’m saying that people who suffer from depression can be successful, even though they are depressed. This is important to know. Because sometimes, people want to blame their condition for their lack of success. When I share that I’m going through a bout of depression, I’m saying, “I’m depressed and I will be successful. I will not let one strip me of the other.”

Depression Isn’t The Blues

Often, people think I’m “down in the dumps” when I talk about depression. That’s not at all what I am. I’m going through a series of chemical reactions to some external stressor blended with inadequate or overtaxed internal coping mechanisms. Depression is a blend of external forces working on your chemistry and against your current capabilities, your past history, and a few wild card factors. It’s not “I feel sad because I didn’t win that award.” That’s something completely different.

There Are Many Different Ways to Treat (not cure) Depression

Some people take medication for depression. Others take meditation. Others drink. Some do nothing to handle their depression and hope that it’ll go away. Most people do some combination of all of these things. For whatever reason, when I mention that I’m going through a bout of depression, everyone wants to share with me their cure, the same way they do when one mentions the hiccups. I’m all good, thanks. Your way wouldn’t be my way, any more than your eyeglasses prescription would do me any good. We all get here via different vehicles, all have different paths, all have different levels of capability and coping. Your way isn’t my way and my way isn’t yours.

I Am Speaking Up Because Others Are Still Afraid

People view depression as a weakness. Hell, any condition is a weakness. But some people have a harder time admitting something like that. Not me. I’d rather acceptance of where I am over denial any day. But that’s not everyone. When I talk about depression, I’m speaking up because there are lots of people who feel bad/wrong/alone/stupid/weak and otherwise because they are suffering from depression. Several of those people are so afraid that they won’t even seek treatment (except for self-medicating). Several more have living conditions where admitting their depression adds to their problems, and so they have to stay quiet (they believe) to keep everything level.

I’m Saying Where I Am At a Given Moment

Because I live a lot of my life on the web, I am often in a situation where I can’t wait for a good mood before I can communicate back with people. Thus, if people know that sometimes I suffer from depression, they’ll be better armed to understand if I’m not exactly all cheery all the time. This is that transparency that comes with the new social web, and it’s not always a good thing, but in this case, I feel that it’s better than the alternative.

Lastly, I’m Challenging Myself to Be Brave

In figuring out what it takes to deliver the Human Business Way, I decided that being “Brave Now” is one of the five cornerstones to doing the work you want to do and succeeding. When I challenge myself to work through my depression and do what needs doing, I’m being brave enough to accomplish The Works (another of the 5 parts of the Human Business Way) and stay in the game.

Bravery is a muscle, like love. You have to exercise it constantly or it will turn flabby. When I am depressed, it’s very easy to fall away from bravery. But because I’m working harder and harder to stop avoiding things, when I tell you about my depression, it’s because I have something to tell myself, and I just want you to hear so you can think about your own personal bravery.

That’s all. I don’t want your help. I don’t want to call you and talk with you. I don’t want anything from anyone outside of me. I just need for you to know that sometimes people suffer depression and that they are all around you. Maybe you’re one. If so, I’m not speaking for you, I’m speaking alongside you.

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/danronken danronken

    Chris,
    Met you a few times in the last couple of years while I lived in Boston. I’m now back in Minneapolis (where I’m originally from). Having many years in recovery from addiction, I can identify with the emotional flux. I left the marketing agency I founded behind, and start grad school next week pursuing a career as a psychotherapist. Thanks for the raw authenticity man. Very nice.
    Peace,
    Dan

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  • Alexoid Luce

    Thanks Chris. Depression has been misunderstood on so many levels. Sending vibes all the way from Malaysia!

  • Keleiter

    This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of right now. I’ve been struggling with Bipolar 2 for 15 years and I am only now attempting to follow my dreams of being a writer. I started a blog to share what I was learning with other beginning writers and I was really enjoying it when suddenly, depression hit. I lost about 5 months before I finally started to come back to myself and started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel again. Only this past week did I start feeling up to tackling my writing again and bringing my blog back from the dead.
    I feel good now, but I worry every day that my broken brain is going to decide to take it all away again. I’ve already lost so many years to this disease. It’s hard to stay positive and believe that I will succeed in the end.

  • robertrizzo

    Chris, thanks for sharing this. Reality is anyone attempting to accomplish anything meaningful can be encumbered by bad habits and poor self-talk. But I find it refreshing that you are so transparent about your depression. Bottom-line we all have to dig our heels in and fight off whatever would try to prevent us from accomplishing our dreams. Thanks for being human.

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  • http://www.createdby.co.za Amanda – CreatedBy

    Once, when I was in a really tough period of depression, I was having my cup of tea and reading our weekly Sunday chat, and you mentioned that being an entrepreneur/working for ourselves is really hard and that we should honor ourselves more in our efforts and understand that success can be a varied goal.

    You said that sometimes ‘just getting out of bed, is a good day’.

    That last part has helped me to propel myself through my depression on several occasions because getting out of bed is sometimes the hardest part of the day. Once I had added ‘Get out of bed’ to my internal checklist of “Awesome job Mands. If you do nothing else today, you are still a winner!” then getting out of bed became something that I could do with a feeling of success.
    Such a simple thing, yet it has created a shift in my life that has a significant impact.
    Thanks for talking about depression Chris.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Wow! That’s awesome! That makes me so happy!

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  • http://kendonaldson.com/ Ken Donaldson

    Thanks Chris, from me and the many who struggle with depression. Your transparency is awesome.

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  • http://www.sieverkropp.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

    Wow Chris. Thank you. My wife struggles with depression and I’m always on the lookout for articles, blog posts etc that will help me have an idea of what she faces. This helped. Thank you.