For many years I clung to my secret. My husband and my mother knew that I did nog always cope, and that was all. And only because it was impossible to keep it from them. I remember trying to explain to my husband. I will forever be thankful for his sincere efforts to understand. Years later he uttered these unforgettable words: “I believe in depression as I believe in God – I cannot see it, but I know it is there.” This shows me a man who really tries to understand. And I know there are many out there who are not even remotely interested in trying. With my dear mother I could never really talk about it. I knew she blamed herself (as parents do) and felt she probably carried it on to me. A little letter she wrote me after I landed in hospital is today one of my most precious possessions. How I wish today she could have had the opportunities for information, theraphy, support, knowledge and growth that I have now. In her days there was no choice – you just had to go on without complaining. Which she did as best she could. In the process she reared seven balanced children and a multitude of happy grandchildren. Salute, dear Mum! OK, then the crisis came and I landed in hospital. And my husband must phone my principal. And he must announce my sudden absence and its reason in the staffroom. Out in the open! Today I can smile about it – nobody really talked to me about it, because nobody knew what to say. But at least the hippo was out from under the table. It took a few years before I fully realized that was the beginning of a new road for me. A road where, among other things, it became increasingly easier to shed my masks and shields and show the world my weaknesses. A road where other people found it increasingly easier to show their weaknesses in front of me. A new road with a new freedom. I still do not talk to everybody about it. These writings I find very easy, but I will not easily just mention my depression in a social situation. And when I fall back (and yes, it still happens now and then) I still sit it out alone. Maybe that is the most difficult part, the darkest moment of depression – that utter loneliness. It pulls your focus so completely in on yourself that you find it impossible to reach out to another human being. I really think depression makes you a very selfish person. It is a selfish illness, wanting you for it itself only. I still do not want to wear the badge of being a depression sufferer. Yes, although it is socially much more acceptable, people still label you and judge you according to that label. And I want to be known as a good person, as mother and writer, not on the grounds of my problems. So for me personally keeping the secret was not a good thing. A problem shared (with the right people!) is simply a problem made lighter. But I do not believe in discussing it with just anybody. And I most definitely don’t believe in hiding behind it. As with everything in live, I believe here it is also important to find out what works for YOU. And probably the middle way is also the best one, as so often happens.