Depression: Does our insensitivity feed the stigma?

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The strongest person I know has a mental illness. From the time the sun rises, to the time it sets and the lonely moments deep in the night, they are fighting a battle I will never understand.

“Just snap out of it”, I would always say. Not knowing those words echoed in their mind, making the guilt pile higher and higher. Sternly, I’d say, “We all feel like this in someway, during sometime…it’s normal, it’s human nature”…..ignorant of the true impact a mental illness has.

What I failed to see was that feeling depressed and having depression are two very different things.

The word depressed is used so non-chalantly in our everyday lives. Depressed has turned from a medical diagnosis, to a mere adjective used to describe a semi-upset/lonely feeling we may have while updating our Facebook statuses.

Now, I am not saying that those feeling depressed aren’t justified in their own feelings– because they are. But, turning a serious mental illness diagnosis into something that is used so lightly in our society has detrimental effects.

It is politically incorrect and wrong to say we feel “retarted” while letting Facebook know we failed our last exam. So why isn’t it wrong to say we feel “depressed” when we miss the latest episode of Walking Dead. It is unjust to attach such an insensitive meaning to such a serious clinical diagnosis. This societal use of the word depressed leads to a false understanding that depression is something that always has a set cause and expiration date. In reality, it does NOT.

Sure, we have all felt the upset/sad aspects of depression at some point in our lives, but in most cases those feelings end within a day or two. However, being clinical diagnosed with depression is a daily, hourly and minute by minute fight with absolutely no expiration date.

“Go see a psychiatrist and get put on anti-depressants” is what many would say. It is almost an innate instinct of our society to seek out a “quick-fix” to any issue.

But what happens when that person seeks out clinical help, gets put on anti-depressants and STILL feels the same hopeless, debilitating and numbing pain of depression? Or worse, those anti-depressants sought out to diminish the feeling of a sightless future rather intensify those life-ending thoughts. Many times, it is in those moments that those suffering become silent. Embarrassed that they are one (of many) with whom medication does not help. Surrounded by piles of massive guilt, they retreat and close themselves off. They become one with the stigma.

As a society, we have replaced the human-to-human interaction and treatment of mental illnesses with a small chalky pill– thinking it to be enough. Essentially placing a life in the hands of a pill and say we have done our part. How ridiculous is that?

Rather, we should be kind and make an effort to build those with depression up. Every minute, every hour and every day they are alive proves their determination. In a moment of desperation, sometimes a simple phone call is all it takes– letting the person on the other line know you acknowledge the battle they are facing and  are there to reassure them that strength lies not in the capacity of one person, but rather in the supporters that stand behind them.

Xo,

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**All statements made above are of my own opinion** 

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