Today, we are formally launching the column: My story with Depression. Nothing is more powerful than sharing our fears and embracing our vulnerability. By doing this, we start to accept ourselves and heal.
This new initiative intends to bring honesty, vulnerability, and acceptance to our community. All members are invited to share their stories of depression. Our first story is from the Founder and Executive Director of CandleX, Xiaojie Qin.
“Have you thought about telling your life story here?” a friend from the retreat center, New Life Foundation (NLF), asked me.
“My story? I don’t know. I mean, it’s boring, it’s just my life. Nothing too dramatic has happened.” I replied while walking with him after the Monday Life Story night. Secretly, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready speak openly about my struggle with depression.
It was 2 weeks after I arrived at the foundation in 2014. I made friends, and I felt that my heart was more open.
A few days later, I got a text message.
“…She killed herself…”
The candles that I lit in the temple next to NFL for her.
My mind went completely blank. For a very long time, I was too weak to walk. There were no words that could describe the sensations that I felt or the emotions that I experienced. It was just, surreal. I knew she had clinical depression. I had advised that she should be taken to a rehab center just two days before.
Aside from all of the tears that I cried, I just painted. I don’t really paint, but I just painted.
Days later, I told the host of Life Story this: “Yeah, I’d like to tell my life story on the last Monday that I am here”.
Then I did.
My whole life was in front of my eyes, all of the happiness and sorrow, my laughter and struggles, and everything that I was proud of and was afraid to let people know. I laid it all out there in the open.
October 2014, in the listening hall reading my notes before I started.
Depression formed a large part of the story that I told. Everyone at the foundation thought I was so full of joy, energy and love for life. None expected that I have struggled with mental illness for so long.
I finally asked myself the question: “Why hide it?” People die from depression. She died. I almost died from depression a few months ago. I almost died!
I should stop shaming myself about this and help others to know that they shouldn’t shame themselves either. I can help other people to know better by telling my story.
October 2014, in the listening hall getting ready to do my story.
“So what do you want people to know after hearing your story?” I asked myself.
The voice was loud and clear.
I wanted to let people know that depression can affect any of us, not only the least fortunate. All are susceptible, regardless of intelligence, social status, economic status, relationship status, etc. I know I have a great family, a good job, great friends, and a healthy life style. But, it still happened to me. I knew that there were others who, like me, were suffering silintely. In a way, I guess I was sick of being silent!
I also wanted myself to know that, “Uou don’t need to carry all of this on your own. Just put it down.” I wanted to stop faking a smile when I wasn’t happy at all. I wanted to stop pretending to be strong when all I needed was care and support. I hoped that sharing my story would help me to achieve this.
So there it is, the 30 minute life story limit was pushed to 60 minutes. I forgot the time and just kept going. The host didn’t stop me. I just rambled on.
People came up to me and thanked me for my story. As a ritual, I received hugs, words of encouragement, and made even deeper meaningful connections there.
A friend gaving a hug after listening to my story.
Now, 1.5 years have passed. CandleX has been running for over one year, and I have been able to share my story with so many more people, and have been honored to hear others’ stories in return.
One of those days, walking to the Listening Hall.
Looking back, all these changes all started there, on that day when I shared my own story.
Now, I am launching the CandleX “My Story with Depression” column because I want to create a platform for you, the same one that NLF created for me, to stare back at the depression you have encountered.
This particular CandleX column is a place to ACCEPT yourself the way you are, SHED the weight, EMBRACE your vulnerability, treat yourself with care and COMPASSION.
We will be publishing articles from our own CandleX community members about their experiences of depression, mania, and / or anxiety.
We invite you to be a part of the light, email your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org You can stay anonymous.
When we share, we heal together.