Doug Leddin had a secret to share.
For more than a decade, he had kept it under wraps, but the depths of his shame had become too great to bear. He was embarrassed not only of the secret itself, but also the fact that he had hidden it from his friends and loved ones for so long.
"I wanted to let my friends know, I wanted to let everyone know, all at once. To lift a massive weight off my shoulders," Doug told Upworthy over email. "It was easier for me to share all at once than to sit down and tell everyone individually."
On April 13, the 27-year-old digital marketing professional posted a moving video confession:
Experiencing mental health struggles is nothing to be ashamed of, of course. But for many people, it often feels that way.
"Depression isn’t about just being sad or down momentarily because of something going wrong or you had a bad day in work," he explained to Upworthy. "Depression is when [you're] sad when everything in your life seems to be going right but you can’t see or feel that. "
"This feeling after 10 years becomes normal, you become numb to it, this abnormal feeling becomes so so normal."
It wasn't just Doug's friends and family who heard his message. Within a week, 1.5 million other people across the globe had heard it too.
After years of suffering in silence, Doug's depression turned him into a viral sensation. Suddenly he was making radio and television appearances throughout his native Ireland, and media outlets as far away as Australia had picked up on his story.
None of this made his confession any less terrifying. But, well, that was also kind of the point.
"The amazing response has just been so heartwarming and kind, truly uplifting," he told Upworthy.
The truth is that there's nothing rational about depression. And there's no cure for it either. You can talk about it and you can treat the symptoms, but the battle never ends. And that's why Doug came forward with his struggle.
Ireland has an incredibly high suicide rate. It's estimated that approximately 1 in 10 Irish citizens has suffered from depression, and in recent years, anywhere from 475 to 550 people died by suicide per year. But while the country actively promotes road safety — 196 people died in automobile accidents in 2014 — there's no comparable campaign for people living with mental illness.
"We need to speak up as sufferers. We need to shatter this silence," Doug said.
Although Doug did find tremendous relief by sharing his colossal burden with the world, the depression is still a part of his life. He will continue to suffer, but at least he doesn't have to do it alone — and, thanks to his powerful message, he hopes that others find the support they need as well.
"Depression for everyone is so different, but I want people to know it doesn't change the person that's affected," he said. "They are still the amazing person you know and love."
"If you're going through some bad spells, and you are feeling dark, alone, and scared, remember that you can talk, that it is OK, that things can and will get better over time. Seek professional help, talk to your doctor or family, and be brave take courage and open up."