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‘I was convinced no one would ever understand’: JC Monahan shared her struggles with depression and anxiety in a personal essay

“If we don’t normalize mental illness, who will?”

JC Monahan in December 2012. Bill Brett for The Boston Globe, File

NBC10 Boston’s JC Monahan is sharing her struggles with depression and “debilitating” anxiety with the hope that opening up about her experiences may help others grappling with mental health issues. 

In a piece published Tuesday in Boston magazine, the Emmy award-winning journalist detailed how seeing people struggling with mental health during the coronavirus pandemic spurred her to wanting to be transparent about her own experiences in recent years. 

“I want this to reach someone, who will then reach out to someone else, who will in turn reach out to someone else,” she wrote. “It took me far too long to understand that life depends on connections. It took far too long for this communicator to learn how vital good communication really is.”

Monahan shared that she was first diagnosed with depression in 2007, but in 2017, she found herself in an “emotional downward spiral.” Depression and anxiety took control over her life, she wrote. In 2018, the anchor and reporter said she ended up in the emergency room after she unintentionally overdosed on Xanax. 

“I felt like I was drowning in my own thoughts to the point that I could no longer breathe,” Monahan wrote. “I was convinced no one would ever understand, so what was the point of telling anyone? Depression has the power to distort your reality. I truly believed no one cared, despite having supportive friends and family. But the idea of sharing my feelings felt like burdening the people I loved. So I stayed silent.”

The journalist said it was when she began talking about her experiences with friends and loved ones, sharing with them what she was going through, that things began to feel a little easier. She said she realized she couldn’t fight the disease alone.

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“I learned from my experience that people really do want to help—they often just don’t know how,” Monahan wrote. “And they never will if those of us who have been to that dark place don’t start talking about it. If we don’t normalize mental illness, who will? For those wondering how they can help someone they believe is struggling, the answer is: Just be there, even if you don’t understand how or why it helps. Ask how they are and let them know you’re willing to listen. Don’t take it personally if your efforts are rejected. Just stand by them. You can’t fix them. Depression is a disease and needs treatment. But your presence matters.”

Read her full essay in Boston.

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