A Monster Tale

Long ago in a village not too different than yours lived a monster.  This monster was not your usual run-of-the-mill, scary, three-horned, sharp-toothed monster.  This monster looked just like everyone else in the village.  And that is what enabled it to eat away at the minds and hearts of the villagers.

Whenever anyone in the village discovered a secret about the past that reflected not too favorably on the family, the monster was there to whisper in ears that this situation was not to be shared or they would be shamed. When something terrible happened, when someone took their own life, when a crazy illness crossed the family’s path, the monster was on their doorstep telling them that there was no one who would help, that it was the family’s fault that the illness came, that the loved one chose the route of suicide.  And again the monster whispered in their ears that they could not reach out for help because it would only bring shame, that they were indeed the ones at fault.

And so the villagers took to keeping many things secret.  They didn’t tell anyone that someone in their family was depressed.  They didn’t seek help when a loved one spoke of suicide.  They kept close to their hearts the pain they felt and the horror that came with the realization that they were all alone.  But they put on a smile and pretended that all was well. And thus the monster thrived, eating away at the minds and hearts of the villagers, growing and feeding on their fear and loneliness and sorrow.

One day a villager not older than you woke tired of being alone, tired of keeping all the secrets.  It was all just too much to face each morning and carry around all day.  The villager decided to seek help.   Knocking on the doors of the other villagers, she told them how she felt and how she needed help in dealing with the depression that had darkened their household.   Some of the villagers welcomed her with open arms, hesitantly sharing their own secrets and feeling the heaviness of their lonely secrets lift.  Others simply closed the door or told her that she should just take a deep breath and keep going.  One was even so bold as to offer her bootstraps to pull herself up with.

When the monster saw what was happening, panic began in the very bottom of the monster’s toes.  He didn’t want people realizing that they could get better, that they weren’t alone, that illness – particularly mental illness – was not something to be ashamed of.  He wanted them to be afraid, to be alone, to be ashamed.  That, after all, was where the power for the monster came.  If that changed, the monster would die.

And so a battle began between the villager whose name was Truth and the monster whose name was Stigma.  Who won?  Only your heart can tell you.

-Bernadette

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