About four years ago, an experienced physician with penetrating blue eyes and a gray beard said to me during my first job interview right after graduation: "I have read your application and now tell me why you really want to become a psychiatrist."  I had a curriculum vitae he already knew: my early life as a Juilliard music student, Rice University, Johns Hopkins, travel to China, and South Africa.I ran through rewarding patient encounters from the medical faculty, contacts he might have in Harvard knows stories.
But I did not tell the truth: Because I know what it feels like to be on the other side.
Why people do not speak aloud.
I'm a psychiatrist, husband, Man of color and proud spa attorney Every day I see patients and tell them, "Speak, talk." But a decade ago, when I was suffering from depression, I said no W. place. Men are raised to be strong. Do not show emotions. Not to cry. For a man with color, these expectations are heightened. And they kill us. Suicide is now the second most common cause of death in males between the mid-20s and mid-30s, the third cause of death in males between the mid-30s and mid-40s.
I was scared at this meeting. Being considered weak seemed disqualifying. It was as if this doctor could see through me. So I hid behind my success. I felt small, stupid and besieged.
My depression came on when I was in college, and she came and went in my twenties. During that time, I worked; Things were better for a while, and then not. Depression can be so episodic and occur in alternating waves of intense emotions and numbness. But I could not talk about it.
So powerful is the stigma. it undermines our human instinct to call for help and to survive. Stigma has prevented mental health stories ever being published, though we are all vulnerable to it.
After months of silence, I drowned and could not do so anymore. My family knew something was wrong because I was isolating myself and getting thinner. I have not slept. Son, it's time to get professional help. And then it was not important enough for me to defend myself.
The first therapist I saw asked me questions for an hour. "What brings you in?" A breakup, a career transition, I'm lost. Actually, I do not know what I said to him. It was artificial, corporate and strange. I saw him once. He gave me his business card and promised me that I would be safe. I did not go back. Months later I saw a psychiatrist on a computer monitor. She went through her checklist. I did not do that anymore.
I had to talk, but thought I could not. Instead, I started to move. I discovered yoga again and something inside me that helped me to talk. I could share with those closest to me what I was going through. And I started to get better.
How to Talk About Depression
A discussion about depression seems to be worse than living with it. There is a risk that the conversation will not go well if we share personal information. People will judge us or feel uncomfortable. Depression keeps asking you to stay silent.
I did not know that I could speak at all. But I forgot it. I had openly talked about my depression with a good friend in our freshman year at the medical school before hiding in my job interview. We spent long hours with books talking about life and ambition at home or just let off steam. I trusted him and it seemed appropriate to tell him that "there was a time in my life when I was in a really dark place". "What do you mean?" He asked. I told him my story. It was like any other conversation, and for the first time, I realized that my personal struggle with mental health was not a family secret. However, this discourse was only the first step in overcoming my own stigma that I had struggled with for years. Now I know that the only way to end stigma is to have productive mental health talks. Break the silence. One conversation each.
The places where men feel safe do not always look like a therapist's office. Clergy not only offer one ear, but also hope, which is almost always lost in severe depression and is important to be restored to the healing process. For therapy groups, it is usually not necessary to know how much you need to speak to help you find your way around. Wellness practices such as yoga and meditation can help people develop useful adjustment methods such as breathing techniques.
Men do not know where to start the conversation, even if they come to my office. The truth is that these conversations start everywhere.
If I had to return in time for this job interview, I would say, "I was depressed and I recovered." And my experience gave me a compassionate understanding of the patients we commonly devote to. "That would have been my most relevant qualification … and my greatest personal achievement.
Every time you talk about depression, you undermine the stigma ̵