Hi, I’m Depressionless and I am fortunate enough to be able to write a guest post on this blog. For more of my writing, check out my blog at depressionless.wordpress.com.
Some people have depression because of family issues, some have depression because they have lost someone they love, but when I was asked why I have depression I just couldn’t reply. It is not because I didn’t want to tell them, I actually had no idea. I still cannot figure it out. It doesn’t make sense. Depressionless, you can’t be depressed, look how good your life is… Yeah, that probably makes the whole feeling worse.
There is a lack of understanding about depression. The first friend I told (except for my really good friend who lives 3000 miles away) could not understand how I had depression. “But you look so happy all the time” was one of the first things they said as we sat on the park bench discussing my mental illness. I just replied with “Yeah, I look happy, but I have depression”. Maybe it is because teenagers have no understanding of the world yet, or maybe people judge a book by it’s cover. This is why I do not tell people about my depression. Those who don’t understand (the majority of people) will think I am making it up or think I am attention seeking, just because they don’t really know how depression affects me.
I’m not the only one. There is a stigma around depression which forces those suffering from it to stay silent. For me, the internet is the only way I can talk about it because people cannot judge me, only what I write. Without the internet I would never have seen a doctor, or my counsellor, or realised I had depression, or receive help from my friend who lives 3000 miles away. People don’t understand depression until someone they know suffers from it, which is very sad. It takes anonymity for many people to get help, and anonymity is not the best way. It is hard to help your depression by sitting behind a screen in your bedroom, in fact that could make everything worse.
If the stigma behind depression were to disappear I am certain you would suddenly hear about a lot of people you know suffering from depression. At the moment, I don’t know anyone who has depression yet statistics suggest 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem each year. I know quite a few people, so I can’t see how that statistic would make sense if I was the only one in 20, or 50, or 100. The truth is that people you know will be hiding their depression from you. I am hiding my depression from most of my friends. That may not be your fault, society as a whole is to blame. But society must change, and then the care of those suffering will also improve.
Hiding your depression hurts. You need to be cared for in a special way. But you can’t get help because of society. That is the problem. How do we solve it? Simple, we must educate. When everyone knows the truth about depression, they will understand what sufferers go through better, and they may be able to help instead of forcing the sufferers to stay silent. Bloggers such as myself try to show the world the truth. The internet has various sites that teach you about depression, teach you about the illness that is more than just feeling sad. Many of you will have thought depression is just feeling sad, and if that is your belief you should read up on it. I hope you never have to suffer from depression, but I do hope you can understand and empathise with those who do. The more you know the better you can help.
Pingback: [My Guest Post] Depression, Stigma and Society | Depressionless
thanks for the thought provoking post. I honor you for working to beat back the stigma surrounding mental illness.
you mention that we must educate so depressed people feel comfortable in society to get the help we want. let’s turn that statement on end.
the education helps, no, is required, because the ignorance surrounding depression. a friend’s internal action to the news about someone with depression might be, “holy, sh*t, they seem so happy. but, there sad. that scares the sh*t out of me. maybe the same thing will happen to me. worse, yet, i might even catch it from them! to play it safe, I better keep my distance.”
that distance may be a physical distance, or worse yet, and emotional distance. the depressed person’s cry for help gets answered with one of the greatest lines in cinema history, “run away! run away!” our cry for help gets answered with a, “thank you, no. I think i’ll stay away.” “thanks for the help! that’s exactly what I asked for!”, said sarcastically.
no wonder we stay in our proverbial rooms looking out the window hoping, wishing, praying that help will some how come to us. we crack the window a bit, the internet, and receive help, because there are people like us out there that understand, who are going through the same thing. they don’t need to be told that depression sucks, because, like us, they live it every day.
I suggest try opening the window a little bit more. look for some peer based support groups. I attend some greet peered run groups through meetup.con and through nami. those groups give me face, smile and hug times, all which are important to my getting better.
“…we must educate. When everyone knows the truth about depression, they will understand what sufferers go through better, and they may be able to help instead of forcing the sufferers to stay silent. Bloggers such as myself try to show the world the truth.” I couldn’t agree more. Speak on. Great post.
Kudos to both depressionless and sojourner. The crazy (pardon the pun) part about depression is that it is SO isolating and yet, it it so consoled by solidarity. The internet is an amazing source of comfor\t for those of us who suffer with depression but cannot confide our despair with even close friends. We continue to reach out to others who can sympathize with our pain and isolation. Well, we are here for you, and you are here for us. We are united in our isolation. Now that is truly an oxymoron! Keep up the journaling and blogging, it ou our source of comfort and connection. And we will educate others on the pain that we live daily.