Comedian Robin Williams recent death has brought a spotlight on depression as suicide. I’ve studied depression and other mental illnesses as mental disease is something that has affected my family. I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous things lately about depression and I want to share a small list of things that I think everyone needs to know.
- Many people suffer from depression and are undiagnosed. There is a societal shame associated with claiming that a person suffers from depression.
- Many people suffer from depression and are misdiagnosed. There are numerous testimonies of people who’ve been prescribed drugs that have worsened their conditions.
- Many people act as if depression is a personal failing and not an actual disease. Depression is a disease like cancer.
- There are varying forms of depression. Some people are diagnosed with mild depression others are diagnosed with extreme depression and there are varying degrees in between.
- Not everyone experiences depression the exact same way. If your cousin Judy was diagnosed with depression and “functioned normally”; it doesn’t mean your mother will behave the same way if she is diagnosed with depression.
- The way a person’s body acts when depressed can and often does change over time. So, what worked 5 years ago, may not work today.
- Depression is not “just having a bad day.” Most people who suffer from depression have to get help, learn coping techniques and have a support system to help them manage the disease.
- People who don’t suffer from depression are not always the most compassionate people in understanding the disease. It’s hard to understand what it feels like not to have your brain working properly if that hasn’t to you.
- People who are depressed don’t need criticism or judgment. They need love, support, understanding and often, a person willing to walk with them to get help and solutions.
- People who suffer from depression have good days and bad days. Depressed people don’t enjoy the bad days. Most of them wish the bad days didn’t come and instead that they could have only good days.
I wanted to write this post because people don’t understand depression. It’s like folks want to see it as some personal failing. But, when your brain doesn’t work properly, you can’t just will it to do so. You can find tools, medicines, therapies to help you, but it you haven’t even been diagnosed, a person may feel like they’re in a black hole. So, before you judge or criticize a person who suffers from depression, think about the things that I’ve written. And remember, unless you actually suffer from depression or have been close to someone who shared with you the intimate details of their lives, you likely have no idea of the struggle that the depressed person endures on a daily basis.
If you think you are suffering from depression, please get help. You can start by calling this hotline. 800.826.3632. And, here’s a link to a bunch of other hotline numbers… http://psychcentral.com/lib/telephone-hotlines-and-help-lines/000173