I’m approaching 39 years old, but have amazingly done most of my personal growth in 1. Crazy right? Whoa! Natalie! Back up! Are you really going to use the word ‘crazy’ when you’re a mental health advocate? What impression will people get of you? So there it is…a perfect example of how a lifetime of depression-guided self-appraisal can to this day influence how I think (or over-think) I’m making an impression on people.

Even though recovering from the dark world of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction has undoubtedly strengthened my confidence and inner-peace, there is still a side of me, the tattoo-free side I suppose, that deeply safeguards my (albeit false) perpetually smiling image. But why does this side of me still ‘care’ what image I am portraying? I really have nothing to hide! I have already very publicly announced, and illustrated to thousands of my blog readers who the Natalie is behind the fragile bubble of incessant laughter. People know that I have travelled from the relentless hell of suicidal ideation, to the heaven of self-acceptance and love. So why would it still matter that I make a good impression, when I’m pretty candid about, well…everything?

I think the answer lies in the fact that I am still a woman who battles mental illness in a society that often smiles and nods in the lime-light of mental health awareness, but quickly closes the blinds when the cameras are off to retreat to the comfortable world of complacency. Promoting a stigma-free community or work environment is somewhat of a social hot-topic these days, but hot-topic talk is cheap when lives are still being lost because many people simply give the impression that they maintain a stigma-free view of people who battle mental health illnesses, when really they would rather gargle hornets then speak out about the stigma-acts they still witness.- So no wonder depression still makes a huge impression even on me.

So even thought I think to myself from time to time that some people probably roll their eyes because my blog posts still appear on Facebook and Twitter, I’m not even close to shutting-up. At the end of the day your impression of me is really none of my business.