A couple of years ago the actor Wentworth Miller wrote a poignant and open letter about his depression to the press, after being openly mocked by all and sundry for putting on weight.
I wanted to add the transcript to this letter below as it’s just so raw and honest. Social media can leave us envious, make us bolder in our criticism and sometimes it’s good to be reminded that there are real people behind cruel memes or on the receiving end of nasty comments.
I’ve struggled with depression since childhood, it’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights. In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favourite meal and a new episode of Top Chef. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be. And I put on weight. Big deal. One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc. My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned. In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed. Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I’m glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red T-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist. Anyway. Still. Despite.
The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness. Of myself and others. If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. — W.M.