Back in May when I admitted to my friends, family and colleagues that I had been treated for depression for the last thirty years I was besieged by an onslaught of congratulatory, inspirational and supportive messages. Whilst I had prepared myself for the announcement I was not prepared for this display of overwhelming appreciation and amazing outpouring of positivity. Why had I left it so long?
Out of all the messages I received, and there were hundreds, one stood out. At the time, I didn’t understand why but it meant a lot to me and I said as much to the sender. We both shed a few tears at the time, but I didn’t really know why. Only that I felt very moved.
Six months later, I am not just moved, but incredibly humbled not only by the original comments but now also the subsequent admission by the sender of that message.
Only yesterday, this person thanked me again for my bravery in admitting to my mental illness. Welling up with tears and clearly struggling with mixed emotions, she told me that I have helped and inspired her to come to terms with her brother’s death from epilepsy. Up to now she has been unable to face this tragedy and I knew nothing of this. She went on to say that for the first time this year she has bought her Christmas cards from an epilepsy charity. Again, this is something she has wanted to do previously, but just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Following my email in May she thought “If Caroline can do it, then so can I”.
Lesson 2-Is there a mosquito in the room?
I think that the best way to sum up this experience is firstly to say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Someone you know may appear to have a lovely life, but you never know what is going on behind the scenes. There are not many people around who manage to avoid heartache at some point in their lives and, if you compare yourself and your lot with others, you may not be comparing like with like.
Secondly, I would like to quote Anita Roddick.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”
I never thought that my admission would have such an impact on others. If I had known, I would have done it much sooner. You can make a difference, however insignificant you think you are. Don’t underestimate yourself or your impact.