Tag Archives: misconceptions

[Guest Post] Depression, Stigma and Society

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.

purple berries…

headline reads, “Heading off troubling police encounters with mentally ill”

the second time in a week, a headline grabs my attention. this time mental disorders are equated to an “illness”.

tell me, are people with cancer considered ill? a heart condition? a thyroid condition? none of these conditions evoke a description of illness. why are mental disorder so often singled out as being and illness? this continues my work of education, to break down the misconception surrounding mental disorders. it is those misconceptions that cause stigmas. it is those stigmas that cause a reaction similar to a newfound compatriot. he didn’t tell his boss that his wife went into the hospital because of a mental disorder. he made up some other condition, instead.

this article appeared in the seattle times. the author continually uses the shortcut of mental illness to describe people with mental disorders.

the article discusses a new program put together by the king county sheriff’s office. this program got put in place after a rash of shootings and deaths by local police departments when dealing with people with severe mental disorders. the program keeps a of list people with mental disorders so police can be more knowledgable when coming to a situation. don’t thing big brother, here. this list is a voluntary list and used so the police can be more aware and make connections with treatment providers.

so, i’ll continue on my journey of education. i plan to contact the author and the sheriffs department, especially the officer in charge of the program to let them know of the stigma they are potentially perpetrating.

Let’s face it, i am no more ill than someone with cancer, a thyroid condition or a heart condition. this madness has to stop! an i’ll try one person at a time.

clouds rolling by…

headline reads, “Ricin suspect had mental problems”

great headline, especially for people with mental disorders, NOT!

what a way to perpetrate the misconception about mental disorders. for too many people this will become just another example of how all people with mental disorders belong in the cuckoo bin.

you know what? i’ve never looked up the recipe for ricin. i’ve never written a letter to the president and never threatened anyone. the closest i’ve come to any problems is being overcome with despair to such a degree that i thought about taking my life, twice. yet, for too many people, i’ll get grouped with this guy with “mental problems”.

As i sit here and watch the reports from boston, i am inspired. they talk of soldiers from afghanistan and iraq showing up at hospitals offering support to people who had lost their limbs, letting them know that they will run again.

similar to those soldiers, i hope to be with a person dealing with deep dark despair that comes with being diagnosed with a mental disorder. i hope, like those soldiers, i can pass along a message of hope, that they too can survive and prosper even though they have a mental disorder. that mental disorders don’t have to be a death sentence. and finally let them know that they can look forward to dieing with a mental disorder as opposed to because of a mental disorder.

really? i belong grouped with this guy? i don’t think so. neither do most of the people who suffer with mental disorders. they are fine upstanding citizens trying to live with a chemical imbalance in their brain. nothing more, nothing less.

postscript: the headline online has since been updated to “Ricin suspect had mental problems”. while the new headline softens the wording, it still perpetrates misconception.