Depression is an non-discriminatory mental illness that affects 1 in 6 people in the UK alone. Despite this, there are still people out there who still just don’t get that depression isn’t just a moment of feeling a bit sad. These people often try to spread their ignorance onto sufferers in an attempt to get them to “get over it”.
This isn’t necessarily done in a malicious way, but it can be frustrating and make the sufferer feel even more alone than before.
Anyway, here are some of the things that people suffering with depression are sick of hearing:
“You don’t seem depressed to me” or “But you always seem so happy”
Because, of course, you have to look depressed to actually be depressed. Just like most of society, people with depression only want others to see their best side. It’s sometimes difficult for those of us with depression to accept the reality of having depression. So the last thing we need when we admit to ourselves and others that we have a mental illness is a challenge. It’s as though the person is saying, “Prove it”. My proof is not pretty, and I’m too ashamed to show it to closed minded people like that.
“You just need to exercise and eat healthily”
Sure, these things have proven to help aid a person battling depression. However depression can rear its ugly head in a variety of different ways, and sometimes no amount of kale and puddles of sweat made at the gym is going to help make it go away. My depression is due to chemical imbalances and psychological factors. Exercise and healthy food will not help me talk through my issues. And besides, sometimes I genuinely just need some apple pie or chippy chips (my go-to comfort food) to get me through the day.
“There are people in worse positions than you”
There will always be someone worse off, but that doesn’t invalidate my depression. You don’t remind a person with cancer or any other physical illness that there are people in worse positions than them. It doesn’t stop them from having cancer, and it doesn’t stop me from having depression. Either you’re trying to shame me for wallowing in my depression, or you’re trying to use the knowledge that there are people worse off than me to make me feel grateful… Either one isn’t helpful.
“But you have no reason to be depressed!”
I know that! Believe it or not, I didn’t choose to become depressed. It happened. A number of different factors caused my depression and built upon it. Sure, maybe right now I have nothing to be depressed about, but I still have depression. By telling a person that they need a valid reason to feel down or upset, you will likely exacerbate their pain and make them feel devalued. We need to reach out and speak up about our struggles with depressions, and statements like this make it all the more difficult to do.
“You just need to get out more”
Depression isn’t just a matter of being lazy and staying in all of the time. It is battling to get out of bed every day; pushing to believe that you’re worth spending what little energy you have on feeding yourself and maintaining personal hygiene. It’s exhausting being depressed. I’m slowly recovering, but the one thing I cannot shift is the fatigue. And that is what makes it seemingly impossible at times to “get out more”. I know I need to, but I’m sometimes so exhausted that I take a two hour nap during the day, and still oversleep during the night. I want to get out more and socialise more, but it’s really not as simple as that.
“You’ll just have to get on with it”
This one I have heard a few times, and it just sends the wrong message entirely. I don’t want to deal with this for the rest of my life. I want to beat it, or at least batter it enough that I’m the alpha in my own mind again. Telling someone with depression that they’ll just have to deal with it diminishes any speck of hope that they may still have that they can get through this. It can make the battle seem pointless, and it’s not. So don’t dismiss it like that.
“Just snap out of it”
If only it was that easy! Don’t you think I would have “snapped out of it” six years ago if it was that simple? This sentence frustrates me the most. It is ignorant, insensitive, and just plain wrong. I have no more words to say about this.
If you know someone suffering with depression, just know one thing: that person needs someone in their life who will listen without judgement. If you want to be that person for them, I will give you some advice. Do some research on depression and its causes and symptoms, and really actively listen to the person. Helping them with simple tasks, offering food, just being there, can help make a world of difference to that one person.