There’s an elephant in the room, but it feels more like a fire-breathing dragon. People are dying from the mental illness known as depression every day around the world, and yet those who suffer from it feel afraid to speak their minds. There’s a stigma attached to depression that we need to destroy, because it’s making sick people feel like they’re somehow lesser when they’re really just unwell.
Have You Been Diagnosed with Depression?
I don’t mean to minimize anyone’s feelings or tell you what to do, but if you feel like you’re depressed and haven’t been diagnosed you really should talk to a doctor or psychiatrist about it. There are a lot of simple lifestyle changes they can help you make that can have a positive impact, from taking medication to exercising to getting out in your social circle more often.
But let’s focus for a moment on what depression is; it’s a mental illness which can be caused by a number of contributing factors. If your family has a history of mental illness you may be more likely to suffer from depression, but even very healthy people can fall into a deep depression following a traumatic event such as a brain injury or losing a loved one.
There is a difference, though, between being depressed and being a little down, or sad, or blue. I mentioned earlier that depression was an elephant in the room – well depression feels like having that elephant standing on your chest. It kills your motivation, your desire to create or fulfill goals, and your ability to experience joy and pleasure. It leads to a state of being that is diminished in every way, and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
If you are suffering from depression, I empathize with you. I have been caught in the writhing waters of mental illness myself, and I still wrestle with depression every day. Fortunately I have found the tools and resources I need to emerge victorious most of the time… but it will never stop being a struggle.
Destroying the Stigma Around Talking About Depression
I’m going to be straight with you; talking about depression is cool. It’s extremely cool to express your feelings, to vent when needed, and to reach out for help in the right places. It’s equally cool to listen to someone else, to offer support in their time of need, and to help connect them with the resources their community can provide.
If you were walking down the street and you saw someone laying on the sidewalk bleeding, what would you do? Almost definitely you would yell for help, call 911, and apply first aid as best you know how. So imagine if you could see someone’s depression the way you can see a flesh wound or a bruise. Imagine walking into your friend’s apartment to find them flattened beneath an actual elephant, or a fire-breathing dragon. Your first impulse would be to help them, because you can see what’s wrong. Only through developing an equal understanding of mental illness can we hope to truly combat the stigma surrounding depression.
Can We Lower the Suicide Rate?
I ask you because I don’t know – but I truly hope so. For every person who reads this post, I hope you or someone you know will benefit from the words of compassion I’ve written. I hope this helps you to understand that you’re not alone, and that hiding your anguish is never the answer. If we can come together as a people and truly support each other, truly understand the challenges faced by one another, then I think that we can destroy the stigma surrounding mental illness and get more people suffering from depression the help they need.
If you relate strongly to this post, I hope you’ll reach out to me on social media and share your story. The more we share, the more we reach out, the more we support each other, the less real the stigma becomes. If we support each other enough, one day maybe it will even disappear entirely.