*Warning Sensitive Content*
Statistics show that the amount of people suffering with depression is quickly becoming more common than any other illness or disorder and that it is also the most common mental illness among those who die from suicide. These statistics leave me pondering why there are still so many people who don’t know much about depression and suicide. I can tell you from my own experience that it is first and foremost a real illness, one that is often silent, life-altering and potentially deadly.
Many people have a preconceived notion about what depression and suicide really are and this continues to make it especially laborious for an infinite amount of individuals suffering with a mental illness to find the strength to be as open and honest with loved ones and professionals as they would like to be. Too many times a person in the presence of someone who is suffering with depression or suicidal ideations may unintentionally use phrases like ‘I’m so depressed’ or ‘I’m gonna kill myself’ as a figure of speech to express their emotions in that moment without registering the substantial impact it may have on those who are truly hurting around them.
When someone casts these inadvertent statements around you it only diminishes and devalues the seriousness of mental illness, which also leaves so many people grappling with the inability to reach out and ask for help. You see, depression lies to you because it makes you feel so alone & weak and makes you feel like the world is always judging you, simply put, depression and suicide are just vastly misunderstood.
The lack of knowledge and education encompassing depression and suicide continues to make it more and more challenging for the millions of people around the world to feel protected when they are trying to express their thoughts and feelings instead of worrying that they will be made to feel more alone, more weak and more judged. Even though we as a society have made great strides over the last decade in recognizing that mental illnesses are not “all in your head”, I know there is still so much work to be done. I know this because I live with a mental illness every day, I live with depression every day, I live with anxiety every day and I live with suicidal ideations every day. I have been made to feel all alone, weak and judged as well as too afraid to speak the truth for fear of the aftermath as I have experienced much of that aftermath with significant regret and sorrow.
The misconception that a mental illness is “all in your head” can and will belittle a person suffering. Depression et al is very much a disease and sadness is very much an emotion. It is not something provoked by encountering a bad day and then thinking that by taking a long hot bath you can cure it; it unfortunately doesn’t work that way, and likewise, it can’t always be “fixed” by simply taking a pill (but I do hear that it can make you a racist, A.K.A Roseanne Barr!). Many people assume that if someone is afflicted by a mental illness that a doctor will merely prescribe them an antidepressant and it will miraculously go away. I know for me and many others this is completely untrue. I have tried over 20 antidepressants and all that they did for me was lead to further complications. I’m not saying that medication won’t work for everyone, but thinking that it will, can be very impeding on your loved one’s road to recovery.
One of the most difficult roadblocks I find while suffering with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts; a roadblock which can become the most dangerous one of all; a roadblock which can create a barrier so high that we can no longer speak our truth because the face of mental illness is so misconstrued. Unfortunately you can’t see a mental illness in the same way that you can see many other disorders or illnesses (or a broken leg for that matter), so please forgive me if I tend to smile or even laugh once in a while or put on some makeup to hide my tired eyes or even carry on a normal and engaging conversation with you, but these actions are by no means an indication that I am not still hurting inside and will just leave someone like myself feeling more alone, more weak and more judged because “I look fine”.
I can probably relay to you fifty more preconceptions behind depression and mental illness in general but instead I will just continue to write my truths, be as honest as I can be and give you ‘just the facts’, the facts that I have come to believe to be true, the facts that are not “all in my head but instead come straight from my heart.