Something I've observed quite a lot recently while being at college full of mostly uneducated people to the world of mental illness is that people don't understand what depression really is. Most people don't understand mental illness full stop. But today I want to focus on depression specifically.
From my personal experience, people don't really throw around the terms 'OCD' 'bipolar' and 'schizo' as much as they do depression. They definitely don't understand these terms, especially at certain times of year with OCD being turned into obsessive Christmas disorder, which gets me unbelievably angry. Sure, these terms aren't always used correctly, and people definitely don't understand them, but there's something about depression. I don't know if it's the turn in weather or the fact that people want to appear 'cool' to their friends.
I mean, I really don't understand what's cool about taking the mic out of a mental illness, but hey, that's stigma and discrimination for you. I don't know why, but people seem to enjoy throwing the term depressed or depression about willy nilly, without actually thinking twice about who they are talking to.
Some of you may be confused by the title of my blog post others of you may get it. Basically, what I'm getting at is, in a world where we throw the word depression and depressed around so much without really thinking it through, are we all actually depressed, without realising it?
But what about the people that really have depression. The ones who have been to the doctor, got the formal diagnosis and maybe take antidepressants or go to CBT sessions. Are they just making it up? Are they just doing it for attention? Is there really anything wrong with them? Is there any point in them going to doctor, if everyone has depression?
Of course, not everyone has depression. And of course, the people who actually suffer from depression should go to the doctor. Depression is a serious mental illness which can cause a range of symptoms both physical and emotional, some of which can be really distressing. Depression is real. It's very real. Unfortunately, people like to use depression as an adjective, they like to throw the term around because it's 'understandable' people get what they are on about when they say it. When In actual fact, they couldn't be further from the truth.
I don't always think that people are doing in on purpose, with the aim of causing stigma around depression. But it's exactly what they are doing. The more you use the word depression to describe things which really aren't depression or say that someone/ yourself has depression when really they are just sad, quiet or having a bad day, makes it harder for someone who really has depression to speak out and get the support they need, from both the loved ones around them and the professional medical help they need to make a recovery.
Every time I hear a friend use the word depression incorrectly, it makes me doubt if I really have depression. Am I just making it all up? Is there really anything wrong with me at all? If they have depression and seem to be living their life normally, what the hell is wrong with me? I have these empty feeling in my stomach all the time, I struggle to see a future, and on bad days I struggle to see the joy or happiness in anything! Is there something seriously wrong with me?
No, there isn't something seriously wrong with me. I suffer from depression. Real depression. Depression isn't about being sad all the time or not moving from your bed for days on end. Depression affects everyone differently. And yes, someone people with the illness will struggle to move from their beds, or look very sad, most of us won't. Most individuals with depression force themselves to live amongst everyone else, because that's what we have to do. It's what everyone else does. We put on a play every single day. Most of the time, you wouldn't even know.
Through the media and a lack of education, people don't have a clear understanding of what depression is. Your best friend, who seems happy and is getting good grades at school, may be suffering from depression. Your teacher, who turns up every day and marks all your work, may be suffering from depression. Your mum, who's doing the best to look after you, the house and balance a full-time job, may be suffering from depression. But you don't know. Depression isn't always visible. Pain isn't always visible.
Next time, you feel like using the word depression or depressing to describe something or someone, that isn't depression, or you don't know if they have depression- think twice and refrain from using it. You don't know the damage you could be causing by using one simple word. The more we 'normalise' depression to be more of an adjective, that people have one day and not the next than a serious mental illness, the fewer people who actually suffer from depression are going to feel comfortable talking to you about how they are feeling or going to the doctor to get help.
The damage you could be causing by misusing one simple word can be catastrophic. Depression is not an adjective. Educate yourself about what depression really is by having a look through these links here:
I hope you guys enjoyed this post, I'm thinking about doing more posts about tackling the stigma that surrounds certain mental illnesses. So if you think that would be a good idea or you have any more suggestions for topics for me to cover on my blog, relating to mental health, please let me know!
Thanks for reading, as always X