I’m going to say it. I’ve been holding it in for so long; I am ready to say it. Here it goes. I’m saying it.
I have depression.
Wow. That feels amazing. I want to say it some more.
I have depression. I have depression. I have depression. I have depression. I have depression.
Depression is really weird. Not just because we don’t completely understand it scientifically or as a society, but because everyone “has depression.” Everybody likes to say, “I’m depressed.” But it’s weird because when somebody like me, who is actually diagnosed with depression shares that fact it is suddenly not okay.
Okay sure, everyone feels sad or a little down sometimes, but I don’t really know of too many people who get so sad or so down that they can’t move. There are moments in my life where my depression reaches levels so extreme that I literally feel like I can’t move, so I lay there for hours until it passes and eventually move on with my day. But I’m not saying this to bash anyone who likes to say they’re depressed when they really don’t
gothroughthelevelsofsadnessIdo,Iamjust trying to draw attention to this issue because I really felt for so long that my depression was not okay and must be kept a secret at all costs and I know many others who still feel that way.
I was diagnosed at 16 but spent years in denial because I was embarrassed about it. I refused treatment and let myself get to dangerous levels of depression because I refused to believe that I really had depression. Keep in mind that depression is generally not constant; there are ups and downs. I had a great senior year. I was drum major of my high school marching band. I got my first girlfriend. I got accepted to all the colleges I applied to; it was pretty sweet. There were certainly times throughout the year where I’d have an episode, but I had a lot to distract me and an, at first, very supportive girlfriend. Regardless of those great things, what I really needed was real help not distractions or a girlfriend.
If it weren’t for the social stigma of depression, that only crazy people have it or depressed people just need to “suck it up,” I probably would have gotten real help much sooner. The sad truth is, depression is viewed with negativity in our culture. This negative view mostly stems from misunderstanding depression itself and stereotypes that surround mental illness in general. Individuals with mental illnesses are almost always portrayed in an ugly light in the media. They’re always the murderers or rapists. They’re drug addicts and alcoholics. They’re associated with all “bad behaviors.” And yes, while it is true that untreated mental health problems can lead to tragedy, a majority of people suffering from a mental health issues go through life without turning into the sinister characters in the news and media.
Depression may not receive as much backlash as schizophrenia or perhaps, antisocial personality disorder, but there are certainly many wrong ideas out there about it. Sadly many people don’t realize that solving depression is not and has never been as simple as “sucking it up.” (As if I haven’t tried) Depression, or at least my depression because everybody has different experiences, makes many little things that most people can probably brush off commit me to a bed for hours and cry. And the funny thing is, I know very well that it is ridiculous, I know I should not be that upset over small things, but I can’t get over it. No matter how many times I try to tell myself I’m being ridiculous, it never helps.
People also like to believe antidepressants are the godsend pill to solve all of your depressive problems, but no, sadly not at all. Some will see improvement after 6 weeks on medication alone, but a majority of people need therapy and support at home to see improvements in their symptoms and 50% of people will see no change in mood while taking antidepressants. I started taking antidepressants about a month ago. I fought against taking antidepressants for a long time, terrified of what people would think of me and of the side effects. If you didn’t know, antidepressants come with some hefty label warnings. As for whether they are helping or not, I am really not sure. I do notice that my lows are not quite as low as they were this summer, but I am not entirely sure if that has to do with the antidepressants, therapy, or if it’s just a natural spike in mood on this rollercoaster of depression.
Dating is another difficult situation to navigate when you have depression. Once you get over all of the hurdles “normal” people go through with dating, you have to make a decision to inform your romantic
interest about your depression. I guess I don’t have to tell them, but I don’t want to keep it a secret. Unfortunately, depression is a “turn off ” for most people and a burden on relationships, but I do not think it’s fair to hide it from your partner. You may have heard a story over the summer about a girl who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself. This story really grabbed my attention because that’s what my ex-girlfriend tried to do to me, she tried to make me kill myself. The truth is, many people struggle within relationships where one of the participants has depression because most people are not educated enough on mental illnesses to understand the repercussions their words and actions can have.
It is important for people with depression to speak up about it. We need to come out of the depression closet. It is important for those close to individuals with depression to be respectful and get educated. If you are in a relationship with somebody who has depression, please do not ever tell them to commit suicide. If you know anyone who has depression, please do not tell them to commit suicide. Please do not tell anyone to commit suicide. It is not wrong to break up with somebody who has depression, but do not let your bitterness get the best of you in that situation.
Depression is not something we need to fear. Depression for many people is a normal part of life and we need to stop forcing people who have depression to hide it.
If you or somebody you know is having thoughts of suicide or any symptoms of depression please seek help.
1 (800) 273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
(724) 738-2034 (SRU’s counselling center)
1 (888) 7-YOU-CAN (re:solve Crisis Network)