All too often, we as a society tend to overlook the importance of maintaining great mental health. We acknowledge the mental illnesses we classify as “more serious” such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. We typically, as a whole, agree that a person should definitely receive treatment and support for those “serious” mental illnesses. However, when one mentions the word “depression”, society’s reaction is typically different. Why is that? Why are we inclined to feel that the mental illness, depression, is less serious than any other mental illness? I’ve heard people say many things to a person truly suffering from depression:
“Just pray. You will be fine.”
“There is nothing wrong with you. You’re just seeking attention.”
“Here you go having another one of your episodes. I’m over you putting on that woe-is-me act.”
“Just take your medicine and go to counseling. What is so hard about that?”
“You must like being sad. You have the freedom to feel whatever emotion you want to feel. Sadness is what you choose”
“You aren’t going to take your own life. How many times have you said that before?”
How do I know all of this? Sure, I’ve been down at times. We all go through trials that knock us off balance in life sometimes. However, this blog post isn’t dedicated to me. This post is to serve as the voice for a family member whose name I won’t mention. I love this family member with every part of my heart. I would go to the ends of the world for this person because this person has been to the ends of the world for me. I would not be a college graduate today without this person’s help with my son and their constant encouragement. I’ve watched this family member grow from the time of birth to their adulthood. It hurts my heart to know that every negative comment above has been said to my family member. What hurts worse is witnessing the self-esteem of my family member diminish before my eyes as result of the things that have been said. It hurts to witness my family member wanting to give in to depression and give up on life. It hurts to know that I can’t lift that weight of this family member myself. Comments such as the ones that are mentioned above reflect the natural reasoning of the rational person with good mental health. However, I will be the voice for those that are unable to have a voice loud enough to speak for themselves.
Depression is very real. It should not be taken lightly. It should not be overlooked if you ever feel that you are personally depressed. Today, I am telling you that it is okay to identify abnormal feelings and to seek true help for them. You will never get better until you first realize that you may have an issue. For those of you that think that true depression is a choice answer me this: Who would choose to wake up feeling like they have no purpose in life? Who would choose to wake up to uncontrollable feelings of sadness but feel the need to wear a fake smile around others? Who would choose to inflict self injury upon themselves just so they could take they could give the thoughts in their mind a rest? Who would choose to intentionally hurt family members and friends that care deeply for them? Who would choose to take multiple medications that make you feel like vomiting non-stop? Who would choose to give up a free life for a stay in the psych ward? Who would choose a life of not even being able to wear shoe strings for doctor’s fear that you may hurt yourself? Who would choose a life of constant monitoring? Who would give up months of trying to have an episode that retracts all of their progress? Who would choose to give up friends in order to sit in a dark room alone all day?
I’ll be the first to tell you that my family member is a great person with a big heart. She did not choose any one of those things… but they all happened. It is the hardest thing to watch. No one would choose a life like that. My family member didn’t choose to be born with any mental illness. From what I have witnessed, no one chooses to be depressed. Whether it is the result of a chemical imbalance or life situations, people with depression deserve unconditional support. They deserve treatment. They deserve to have a great life. Most importantly, they deserve UNDERSTANDING.
Due to very personal witnessing of what this mental health illness can do if left unattended to, I will end my reply to this topic submittal here. It is so easy for others to judge what they don’t understand. It is also easy for people with depression to hide emotions for the fear of criticism or being told they don’t have a real issue. If I could collect all of the tears that have fell for my very beloved family member and any other people battling depression, I’d have a water collection of more than all of the oceans combined. If you cannot quite seem to sympathize with those that have depression, please read the accounts below. Two courageous blog supporters that battle with depression have opened their hearts to share with you what depression feels like for them.
“From a poetic standpoint depression to me is - It feels like my mouth is full of cotton balls soaked in the strongest alcohol and I can barely get out anything that I want to say without choking up. It feels like my soul constantly tries to rip open my chest so it can breathe again...I constantly hear my heart screaming "lets get the hell out of here, there are knives coming from every direction and a woman in a blue dress blowing me kisses". On and off I feel my spirit dancing with Satan just feel anything again...afterwards my hair smells like smoke and I suffer 3rd degree burns. I am living in this deep and dark hole and everyone is above ground using their phones as flashlights searching for the meaning of life and I am screaming below but no one can hear my calls!” – Rose Brown
“Depression from the eyes of someone who was diagnosed at a young age is literally always feeling like a burden, like you can't stay happy, like the clouds will always be there no matter how bright the sun is. Like when you are swimming and you start to panic and drown and it feels like you can't ask for help because everyone will tell you all you have to do is stand up and it will be ok. It's like sinking into a dark tunnel where the light never gets closer and you're steady running and stumbling and sometimes that light goes off and you're left feeling around for yourself. It's utter hopelessness, and guilt because you don't want anyone to worry about you” – Krissy
To the ladies that shared, I want you to personally know that I think you are both beautiful and you are both inspiring. You give others hope through your personal story. You let them know that it is not okay to deny a true issue but that with identifying the issue, seeking treatment and having support, they CAN be more than their mental illness. Thank you.
To my baby girl, this one is for you. If no one else will speak for you and believe in you, I will.