There are so many misconceptions about depression. People often believe that depression is a choice to be pessimistic, lazy or is simply a negative personality trait. It’s not. People also think that depressed people are seeking attention. They assume that if the person looks to the bright side of life or get out of the house all will be well. Thinking comes from not knowing. People who suffer from depression may be in need of things, but what we don’t need are your judgements or any other ridiculous notions about what depression actually is and what cures it. If there are a group of people who are in dire need of something it is definitely those who don’t suffer with nor have never had to battle depression.
Depression is very, very frightening. It is a monster that follows you everywhere you go. Indoors and outdoors. It can be covered up with a smile and even laughter but it’s still very present. You can’t concentrate. There are even times when others speak and you can’t hear them because the voices that are your own thoughts in your head tunes them out. Imagine a cold, isolated, dark hole where only you sit every single day being stripped mentally of everything until you are left feeling completely powerless. As someone who once suffered from depression, I can tell you that it’s like trying to breath under water. There are good days and bad days and the bad days make you question why you even exist. You feel worthless. You don’t have the energy to do anything and socializing becomes a chore that you hate. All you want to do is be alone and sleep. Sleep and cry. Sleep until you die. Or, just die. When you do finally get the courage to recognize your illness and seek help, it’s not an overnight fix. My depression lasted nearly four years. I was on three different medications. It’s a trial and error thing. Some work until they don’t anymore. Some don’t work at all. Some give you unbearable side affects, like terrible nightmares where you wake up screaming. Others screw up your short-term memory or make you numb to any feeling. You don’t always know they’ve stopped being effective until you become debilitated by depression again. Trying to explain how you feel to other people is pointless, because although people who have never suffered through chronic depression say they understand, they really don’t. They couldn’t possibly.
What people who don’t suffer from depression should do is recognize that depression is a genuine mental illness. It can be mild or chronic. It’s not a mood swing. It’s not about being sad all of the time. Depression affects the entire body not just the mind or spirit. There are around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. who had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the year 2015 alone, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults. Rates of youth depression increased from 8.5% in 2011 to 11.1% in 2014. Do you honestly believe that such individuals fell into depression because they don’t have any friends or just need to get out of the house?
Add to all of this the fact that many who suffer with depression don’t always seek treatment for a number of different reasons. The top reason is that treatment is not very accessible because there are still many people who don’t have access to adequate healthcare. Less access to care means higher incarceration and suicide rates. Do you see where I’m going with this?
People who suffer from depression don’t need to be told to get over it and stop whining. People who suffer from depression don’t need hashtags or meme quotes. People who suffer from depression need vitality and healing–not to be told to go hang out with happy people or go to church. This cruel and false judgement exacerbates the feeling of guilt and makes the depression itself worse. We as a society operate under the assumption that the cure for mental illness is upward mobility when this isn’t the case for everyone. I eventually beat my depression, but it was a lengthy treatment process that had to be allowed to run its course. It’s important to look at the arc of someone’s life and understand that this isn’t just some random experience that just happens. When you view depression as a true disorder rather than a shortcoming, you are able to acknowledge its existence and see it is a reality no one should have to deal with. It is only then you can become a source of support rather than another jackass soliciting an uneducated opinion you weren’t asked for.