sinead o'connor

To Sinead O'Connor: From Someone Who Understands


Dear Sinead,

With much love, compassion and a sense of sisterhood, I want to reach out and say thank you.

Thank you for being brave and sharing your pain. Thank you for being human and allowing your vulnerability. Thank you for being so powerfully emotional and empathetic. You have gifted the world with your amazing words and your beautiful voice.

I also want to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I’m sorry you feel so let down and ostracized. I’m sorry you feel so alone. But you are not alone.

I watched your video and I see you. I listened to your words and I hear you. I feel your pain. You have touched my heart. To me, you are family. The millions of us who do, have or will, experience mental illness in all it’s glorious brokenness — we are your family.

I believe true family weather the storm of fiery words and angry emails, and say, “Are you OK?” “What’s going on?” “How can I help?”

Family never say, “I love you but…” They say, “I love you anyway.”

When the pain you’ve tried to hide so long is seeping out and staining your face, I believe family should gently say, “Talk to me.”

Family doesn’t have to be DNA. Family is not defined by blood or ancestry or the person who knew you the longest time.

Family is forgiveness and acceptance. Give and take. Understanding. It is about love. And love is not an easy path to walk. It is a path fraught with mishaps and misunderstandings. Failures and fears. Then forgiveness.

Family see you screaming at the world, while inside you’re tearing apart, and they wrap their arms around you and say, “It’s OK. You will be OK. I am here for you. You can weather this storm.”

Some are blessed to find their family in the people who raised them — the people who just happen to share blood ties with them. Many more people find family outside that very small circle. Sometimes, searching for family in the wrong places, will break your heart.

The beautiful people in the world are just waiting to hug you. To love you. To accept you. To watch you make a mistake, say the wrong thing, fall over and get back up again. And to say, “I love you anyway. You’re my friend. You’re my family. I see you.”

Sinead, your raw shout to the world is heart wrenching, and I am so truly sorry you feel so isolated. I want to send you a huge hug and say thank you for exposing your vulnerability and not turning inwards, to take the pain out on yourself.

With every ounce of my being, I hope your true family have reached out and wrapped their arms around you and said, “You’ll be OK,” because you will be OK. You have made a difference. You will continue to make a difference. You are a beautiful soul and that beauty is etched in every tear you shed.

I see you. I hear you. To me, you are family.

With much love and compassion,

Your soul sister

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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To the One Who Saw Past the Mask That Hides My Depression

I walk in the room with a smile on my face.

The mask I wear so well is indistinguishable from my very being.

It has become a part of me and I dare you to try taking it off.

I sit down in the seat across from you, still smiling as I tell you about my hurts and painful happenings.

It’s easy for me, this pretending. I’m used to it, you see.

The mask fits me comfortably and I barely even notice it’s there anymore.

But you see past the mask.

Perhaps something gave it away.

Something in my eyes or the way I exhaled too deeply after that last sentence.

I quickly smile once again, trying to cover up anything that may have shown.

You pretend not to notice and I’m thankful.

My mask protects me, keeps me safe and in control.

My mask has become my worst enemy and my best friend.

But as you speak words of empathy and compassion, I can feel the edges of my mask loosening, curling up ever so slightly.

Could it be, that you have seen beyond the mask? Even after I have masterfully kept it under wraps?

The glimmer in your eye and the patient silence is deafening.

You wait, with kindness and understanding, you wait.

I can feel the mask start to itch.

I suddenly feel trapped yet exposed.

I long to tear off the mask that is holding me captive.

I long for someone to see me for who I really am.

And still, you wait, and you watch with warm eyes.

Meeting my gaze only to ask, “How are you feeling?” which fees like a thousand questions wrapped into one.


And with this one question, you beckon me into the light.

With your patient waiting, you silence the voices telling me to hide.

With your smile, you remind me I am not too much, but more than enough.

With your peaceful demeanor you tear down my walls, brick by brick, session by session, never rushing or criticizing in the process.

My recurring head nods and long silences in between discussions are never met with judgment, but with acceptance.

And moment by moment, we are conquering this mask together. Slowly untying that which has left me blinded for years.

With each passing moment I am safer and yet more exposed than I have ever been before.

My mask will not go away so easily.

It is a long process that is only just beginning.

It has taken years to build up and will take years to undo.

And yet we continue together, to conquer that which challenges me every day.

And so as I sit here, stiff, smiling, hiding all that is begging to be released. I thank you.

Thank you to the one who saw past my mask — and decided I was still worth fighting for.

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Thinkstock photo via Stockbyte


When Depression Becomes 'Comfortable'


Thinking of the word “comfort” often brings a sense of peace. It makes me feel at home. I don’t like to leave the moments when I feel comforted. Does anyone? There are many things that bring me comfort, such as writing and talking with loved ones. There are many people who bring me comfort such as my husband, my family and my closest friends. Who or what brings you comfort?

Comfort is a very positive aspect of living. It also brings a lot of other feelings along with it, such as feeling protected or loved. I put comfort, protection and love all in the same category. However, have you ever been mislead by comfort? I have, and it took me quite awhile to realize it. Side note: this post isn’t about the cliche of stepping out of your comfort zone — I am talking about a different aspect to comfort.

For me, when depression gets low and has been around for some time, it starts to feel like home. I’m not saying this just because most crying spells usually happen at home, but because depression began to bring me comfort. It brought comfort I thought I wanted and needed. I remember waking up mornings and the first thing I thought of was when I would be able to come back home and be alone. I looked forward to being alone because I could cry as much as I wanted. I also then began to look forward to crying. Crying spells began to feel so familiar that it gave me anxiety when I wasn’t crying. If you’re reading this and you don’t have depression, this may sound confusing, weird or pathetic… I get it. Now that I am not in that kind of place anymore, it seems confusing to me too. However, I wanted to bring up this confusing dilemma because it was once my reality. I’m sure it has been someone else’s reality too.

This depressive comfort is almost the opposite of anxiety because there is nothing comforting for me about anxiety (besides when it’s not present). I’m not sure if I could ever even have misleading comfort from anxiety because of all the physical symptoms it brings along with it. The hyperventilating, sweating, shaking, etc. is like a mini hell for me. Depression, not so much.

When I’m feeling depressed, I love to sleep. It’s one of my favorite things. I’m not saying I love to take naps, because I do and so do a lot of other people. What I’m talking about is sleeping my days away, so I didn’t have to feel or think. I spent days waking up going to work and then coming back home to sleep until I went to work the next day. It was like taking never-ending naps… I was spending the majority of my time in sweats. It felt beautiful! Days started to turn into weeks living this way. I enjoyed living this way because I felt comforted by my bed, protected from my negative thoughts by sleeping. I thought this was the perfect solution to not feel so crummy anymore.

I didn’t start to realize I was being mislead until I started to vocalize it to my husband and to my therapist. I told them I felt at home when I was feeling depressed. I was fine sleeping the majority of my time. I felt the best when I was crying. If you haven’t figured it out by now, these are all major red flags. The only way I realized this was talking to someone else about how I was truly feeling and thinking. This was a reality check for me. A very necessary one.

Getting out of this depressive comfort wasn’t easy because it felt like I was taking away a positive from my life. I felt like I was taking away that comfort, love and protection. Who would ever want to willingly do that? However, this comfort, love and protection I was receiving did not have good intentions. It didn’t have my best interest in mind… even though it was my mind! Comfort, love and protection are only a positive if it is coming from a source with good intentions. So make sure the comfort you are getting is comfort you actually need. You may want that misleading comfort, but in the long run it will just keep tearing you down!

Please try to recognize when you’re being mislead by depressive comfort. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts aloud because once you speak them, it takes away power from those thoughts!

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Thinkstock photo via marzacz.


On the Days I'm Not Emotionally Ready to Fake a Smile


When some people say, “I’m not feeling well,” most tend to think it’s a physical sickness. Like a cold or a headache.

Just like the times when I wake up in the morning and find it hard to get out of bed because I need to battle my anxiety and depression first.

When it’s almost 7 a.m. and my class is about to start in five minutes and I’m still stuck in my bed, I’ll text my friends to let them know I can’t make it to school. I say I’m not feeling well. They say, “Is it the stomach thing again?”

Every time I’m not feeling well, they tend to think it’s my stomach problem that’s keeping me from going to school. But sometimes not feeling well goes beyond just the physical sickness. Sometimes not feeling well means I’m not emotionally well. I’m still in the constant battle with my self and I’m not emotionally ready to go to school.

Not feeling well may also mean I can’t meet you today because I’m not emotionally ready to fake a smile.

But not feeling well doesn’t just mean I need medication — I just need a hug or maybe just a comforting hand. So every time I saying I’m not feeling well, I hope someone would just look beyond the physical pain and say, “It’s OK if you can’t make it today, just know that we’re here for you.”

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Thinkstock photo via monzenmachi


What You Don't See About 'Happy' People With Depression


This piece was written by a Thought Catalog contributor.

I smile a lot. People meet me for the first time and often mention that. My energy is infectious and full of joy. My friends joke that I smile even when I shouldn’t. It’s my first instinct. It’s natural, something I do without even thinking about it. I smile at neighbors and strangers and babies and dogs wagging their happy tails.

I’m silly and a little loud. Every photo of that exists of me online I’m seen laughing or grinning. To the outside world, I look so happy. I always look so happy.

There’s this idea about what depression looks like. It’s one filled with messy, unmade beds and greasy hair. It’s someone who doesn’t go out to socialize. Someone who watches TV for hours on end. Like a human Eeyore. Gloomy and sad. Lifeless, really.

Depression looks different on everyone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all illness. And just because you can’t see it on someone, just because you can’t tell they’re struggling, doesn’t mean they aren’t affected.

Because when you’re the happy person, the smiley social butterfly, no one expects you to be hurting inside.

No one assumes there are things that go beyond the exterior. No one thinks there’s pain past the friendly outside.

When people see you as a happy person, it’s difficult to want to open up. If you don’t fit the narrow expectation of what depression is or what it can look like, it feels like you have to struggle in silence. Would I be disappointing them if they knew the truth? Would they look at me differently?

So, I don’t say anything. I continue being the happy, smiley, giggly person everyone knows. I go out. I text people back quickly. I show up to brunch and laugh with all my friends.

Depression sits in the background, like an uninvited guest. No one else can see it. But still, I know it’s there.

Even if I’m all smiles. 

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

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Unsplash photo via Matthew Hamilton.


Dear Potential Employer: Here's Why You Should Hire Me, Depression, Anxiety and All


Dear Potential Employer,

Over the past couple of years, I have been more and more open about my ongoing battle with depression and anxiety. While I have had a number of people reach out to me to thank me for being so open, I have also had a lot of people ask me if I am worried a potential employer will see any of my posts and then have that impact whether or not I get a job. I have even had people I trust tell me to flat out stop. But I push back.

For one thing, I do not want to hold anything back from you. I am who I am. I am not ashamed of my illnesses.

For another thing, my depression and anxiety are big assets to you. Yes, you read that right. Here’s how:

1. I have hit rock bottom and have come back.

In my experience, when you deal with depression, you quickly become a very resilient person. When I face a setback, I do not let it hold me back — I use it to motivate me. I may make a mistake or hit a rough patch, but for every step back I take, I am going to take two more forward.

2. I am adaptable.

With depression, I am constantly learning on the fly. Maybe I am dealing with a new trigger, or I have an episode that comes out of nowhere. Each time this happens, I overcome it.

3. I have high emotional intelligence.

This has improved out of necessity: I am very aware of my own emotions and am constantly ensuring I have them in check. I am also cognizant of my surroundings, whether it is for potential triggers or issues or ways I am having an impact on people around me. There are numerous benefits to this in the workplace: I can make adjustments easily, can work well on a team, and am very self-aware of what I bring, and do not bring, to the workplace.

4. I care. A lot.

Put another way, I have trouble letting things go. This makes me the type of employee that will do whatever I can to help out a co-worker, even if that is staying late or working as hard as possible to do a good job. If I make a mistake, it stays with me. It marinades. I replay the situation over and over. I think about every way I could have done it better. I do not want to ever make that mistake again, even if it is something small.

5. I follow through.

As a result of some of what I mentioned before, I do not give up. That translates to me following through on a problem, assignment or project until it is completed.

6. I am driven.

For all of the reasons listed above, I have an uncanny drive. It isn’t just that I want to do a good job, it is that I need to do a good job. If I do not give you 100 percent, it will eat at me and I will be angry with myself.

I understand, potential future employer, how you may be worried about hiring someone with depression. But I hope this post has helped to open your eyes to the advantages there are to hiring me as someone with a mental health issue.



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