Earlier today, Kristen Bell shared a poignant, personal, and honest essay on Motto entitled “I’m Over Staying Silent About Depression.” And while this is not the first time Bell has spoken publicly about her depression and anxiety — just last month, the Bad Moms star opened up about her struggles during an interview on Off Camera with Sam Jones — Bell’s latest piece is so honest and candid it will leave you speechless. Because Bell’s essay proves depression knows no bounds, and reminds us that it can take on many forms.
“Here’s the thing,” she begins. “For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.”
But why is Bell being so open about her struggles now? One reason: to help others.
“I didn’t speak publicly about my struggles with mental health for the first 15 years of my career,” she continues. “[B]ut now I’m at a point where I don’t believe anything should be taboo. So here I am, talking to you about what I’ve experienced … [and] it’s important for me to be candid about this so people in a similar situation can realize that they are not worthless and that they do have something to offer. We all do.”
As a writer and a mental health advocate myself — and a person who has struggled with depression for 17 years — I can totally relate. Because when you open up about your illness, it is liberating. When you open up about your illness, you feel less crazy. And when you open up about your illness (publicly or privately), you help others.
You will help others.
What’s more, the best way to fight the stigma is to stop the silence. Or as Bell wrote, realize “anyone can be affected.”
“Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements,” she shares. “[And] in fact, there is a good chance you know someone who is struggling with it since nearly 20% of American adults face some form of mental illness in their lifetime. So why aren’t we talking about it?”
Bell’s question is right on the money: Why are mental illnesses met with shame, guilt, and secrecy? Why do we judge those who are suffering? And why aren’t we talking about them — not only the illnesses, but the symptoms, the risk factors, and the various forms of treatment?
Why aren’t we talking about mental health in the same matter of fact manner we use to talk about our physical health?
As she continues:
“If you tell a friend that you are sick, his first response is likely, ‘You should get that checked out by a doctor.’ Yet if you tell a friend you’re feeling depressed, he will be scared or reluctant to give you that same advice. [And] you know what? I’m over it.”
Of course, Bell’s essay also could not have come at a better time, as May 31 is the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month — a month which exists for the sole purpose of fighting the stigma, providing support, and educating the public. However, while Mental Health Awareness month is important today, what matters is that we keep this conversation going tomorrow. What matters is that we keep this conversation going next week. What matters is that we keep this conversation going next month, and well into next year.
Because personal accounts, like Bell’s, help shed light on the realities of life with a mental illness. They help to normalize mental illness, stamp out the stigma, and make others feel OK.
But perhaps most of all, they make others feel less alone.More On