How Brave Are You?

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I’m linking up today with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary for Just Write.


Many of you know I’ve been dealing with depression and withdrawal side effects from the medications I’ve been taking. It’s tough, but I’m staying strong.

My husband is a surgeon. While his job is stressful, requiring long days in the operating room, rounding on his patients at two hospitals, and seeing others in clinic, the nice thing about it is it’s pretty black and white; i.e. if someone has right lower-quadrant pain along with nausea, vomiting, and point tenderness, it’s likely he/she has appendicitis and a CT scan with blood work can confirm this in a few hours. If a person comes in with a protruding belly button and says it’s painful there, a simple physical exam can determine whether it might be an umbilical hernia. Both operations are typically quick and result in few complications.

Things are not quite so easy with depression.

There are many kinds of depression and it presents itself in many different ways, with a variety of symptoms:

*decreased energy or fatigue

*difficulty remembering details and concentrating

*feelings of guilt and helplessness

*insomnia or excessive sleeping

*persistent sad, anxious, “empty” feelings

*frequent aches and pains, including headaches

*lack of interest in hobbies; lack of sexual desire

*fatigue and lack of energy

*poor appetite or overeating


Depression is often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are oodles of medications used to treat it, and the equation gets tricky: Which drug(s) + what dose(s) + which person = happier person? There is no “one size fits all” medication.

And then there are the things people don’t talk about. Which only adds to the stigma associated with depression. We’re all reduced to looney tunes, dark and twisty, raving lunatics who belong in the psych ward gorked out on psychotropic drugs. Or knitting in a bar, as the case may be.

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“Dark & Twisty” Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, image credit

I’ve written before about my experience with this blood-sucker of an illness. But it’s become clear that I have to be careful about what I share here. I cannot say all the things I’d like to because when I do, there’s fallout. People talk, gossip. Whisper behind my back. My husband is concerned about what people might think when they come here and read, or when they hear about this/me from someone else who has read. It’s difficult for me to silence myself because in so doing, I’m only reinforcing the negative stereotypes; however, if I’m forced to choose between authenticity on my blog and my marriage, I must choose the latter.

In a nutshell, I’m trying my best to leave some things unsaid here for my husband’s sake.

Consequently, when I heard about this new Kickstarter campaign about mental illness, I was incredibly moved and donated immediately. I urge you to do the same, and to share the campaign with everyone. It’s important. So I’m channeling some of my energy through these incredible women.

Please go read all about This Is My Brave on their Kickstarter page. Mad props to Jennifer Killi Marshall for putting this out there, and for others like Robin, Addye, and Laura, for being brave and sharing their stories in the trailer video. Thank you for speaking up for those of us who cannot or do not, whatever our reasons may be.

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  • molly

    Erin, you know I’m right there with you. In the same “dark and twisty” spot. I also struggle with being authentic on my blog. Most recently, I lost a job offer because they found my blog and saw that I have bipolar disorder. You can imagine how happy that made me :/ Anyway, keep your head up. I’m going to do whatever I can to support This is My Brave because it is exactly the kind of thing we need in society to break the stigma!

    • Erin Margolin


      I am so sorry to hear that and it makes me sick. I think you should blog about it, too! Have you connected with (or do you already know) Jennifer Marshall who’s behind This Is My Brave? xoxoxxo

  • Kerstin Auer

    I think everyone has his/her kind of brave and we all have to decide how far to take it. Thank you for speaking out about depression and mental illness – it’s a great kind of brave! And I think you are still being authentic by just saying what you struggle with and talk about the tough decisions you have to make!

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks so much, Kerstin. I do what I can when I can, and I’ll keep talking about it. The stigma is very much alive, and thriving. It’s terrible. I don’t get it.

  • Elaine A.

    Erin, you can always share anything you EVER need to share with me. I love you no matter what and would never judge you. I just NEED you to know that from ME. You are so very brave and honest and beautiful. I love you. Thank you for sharing this. xoxoxoxo

    • Erin Margolin


      I hope you know the same holds true for YOU — and yes, I know I can call you anytime and share. Just that is a comfort. But there’s also the worry that I’m bothering people…when I need to talk. Still, if it came down to it, I have your digits and I’m not afraid to use them! xoxo

  • Nicole Morgan

    Dear friend, feel free to share your words over in my bloghome any time you wish. I fear my words too are not always what people want to hear from me, but my truth is my truth, and it hurts more to keep it in …

    • Erin Margolin


      EXACTLY! We have to keep sharing our truths. Things aren’t always rainbows and unicorns and it’s hard sometimes to feel so alone. Sending you hugs!

  • BipolarMom (Jenn)

    Only you can decide how much, when and where you want to share, Erin. I think you have done a phenomenal job of showing us who you are and what you experience for the sake of letting others know that they’re not alone. And that’s exactly what I hope to do with this show. Sending lots of love and gratitude for your friendship. xoxo

    • Erin Margolin


      You are very kind. I’m so in awe of you and all you’re doing. Thank you for speaking up and creating a space where we can share and fight the stigma. I still want to talk whenever your plumbing situation settles down and I know you’re in the home stretch of the campaign, so it’s busy busy for you! No rush at all. Just know I’m here whenever. Did I give you my #s? xoxoxo

  • Alison

    Erin, if you EVER need to talk, please let me know. I am here for you. Always.
    I love Jennifer’s project. I think it’s amazing and important. Fully behind it!

    • Erin Margolin


      I know you are always there for me. Thank you so much for ALWAYS being so supportive! I really don’t know how you manage to be there for everyone else all the time— when do you carve our time for SLEEP, or for YOU TIME?? Or do you just skip the you/me time (I know you don’t sleep!)?? xoxo

  • Andrea

    Erin, thanks for sharing as much as you can. You are helping a lot of people just opening up this part of you a little. YOU are brave. xoxo

    • Erin Margolin


      Thank YOU for reading & being so supportive and sweet. It helps to have friends when I’m low and feeling alone. HUGS! xo

  • Kir

    there is absolutely nothing about you that I do not adore or respect. What you have done for other women struggling with their own illness (including me and my mild depression ) is nothing short of important, amazing and helpful.

    please don’t ever think that you are not helping anyone , because you are. Your voice, your passion and your desire to help others instead of hiding under your covers (like me) is a gift. Even in the middle of your own struggle, you’re helping people.

    Erin, I think the world of you. XO

    • Erin Margolin


      You make me want to cry. Also? There is nothing wrong with hiding under the covers— we all do that sometimes. But I hope you know I’m only a phone call away. If I can’t talk when you call, leave me a message. I will call back when I can, ok? LOVE YOU!

  • Heather King

    This project is just so incredibly GOOD. Thank you for sharing it, Erin. xo

    • Erin Margolin


      I KNOW, right?! I’m in love with it. I wish I could go. I wish I could audition. But just knowing that @bipolarmomjenn:disqus is doing this, that she is working so hard to create this show and spread awareness?? Makes me feel much better. I appreciate your stopping by to see/read! xo

  • Kimberly M

    Well, if that’s the case…I beat you because I just blogged about my suicide plan…I have no filter :)
    I love that you write what you can. Even just a smidge will make someone feel less alone. I know that I do when I read your words. You touch spots in my soul that no one can because they haven’t been through it. I love you babe. You’re a strong voice in this community xoxo

    • Erin Margolin


      I can’t begin to tell you how much I love you. I don’t know what I’d do WITHOUT YOU. You?? Have instilled so much hope within me…and you’re a constant reminder that I’m not alone, even though I feel that way. That even under the covers, crying, thoughts swirling…. somewhere? not that far away? Is someone else who knows what it’s like. And isn’t afraid to “go there.” xoxo

  • Chibi Jeebs

    Add me to the list of “you can ALWAYS talk to me” people. And my bloggy door is always open to an anonymous guest post if the need strikes. <3

    • Erin Margolin


      Ooooh, an anonymous guest post…. I LIKE THAT! Thank you, sweet friend. Also? Love playing #WWF with you! xo

  • RobinFarr

    You are brave, no matter how you express yourself. I’m honoured to know someone who is a tireless advocate, even when it’s awkward.

    • Erin Margolin


      You are brave, too, and I am so lucky to count you as a friend and supporter on this often lonely, bumpy road. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo

  • Stacey

    You are so brave. Depression is such a hard disease. It runs in my family and my husband’s brother struggles with it as well. My 6 year old suffers with anxiety. It is SO hard! I know it feels lonely, but you are not alone in this struggle. There are so many out there! And I know how hard it is to walk that fine line between authenticity and protecting loved ones. So hard! Hang in there!

    • Erin Margolin


      One of my kiddos may be dealing w/ anxiety, but not sure yet. We’re working on it w/ a doctor our pediatrician recommended….thank you so much for your support! xo