We had been talking in PHP about wearing badges that indicated something about ourselves. For some people, it’s fashion, others it’s a behaviour. But these badges allow other people to make assumptions, for better or for worse. I was saying that because I’m candid about the fact that I served in the Marine Corps, I felt I wear a badge that lets people assume my masculinity. As a result, I can do things like knit, cross-stitch, not like sports, etc – things that many would consider “un-manly” but because I have my Marine badge, I can point to it and say “Nope, government certified as manly.”

So I was lamenting that there is nothing to show people we have depression. Just by looking at us (if we have our faces on) they have no idea of the torment we may be dealing with inside. So I offered the idea that we should all wear a scarlet D to let people know we’re depressed. Added bonus that the original scarlet letter was more about shame, and the fact that many people attach shame and embarrassment to depression.

This also comes into play when you’re in a depressive episode but you laugh. Or you smile. Or you look like you’re having a pleasant enough time. The Scarlet D would remind people that even though you look “normal” you’re still suffering inside. There is a feeling of invalidation when you’re seemingly happy but dealing with a bad episode. You worry that your apparent happiness means you’re not depressed anymore – or worse yet that you never were and you were faking it. Depression can make you think funny things sometimes.

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