A few days ago, Depression Army tweeted to all their followers, “The biggest myth about depression is _.”
:The biggest myth about depression is __________.
— Depression Army™ (@depressionarmy) November 16, 2017
I replied as soon as I saw the tweet, but afterwards I began reading through some of the other comments and the answers were all too familiar.
That you are just a little sad and it will all go away if you just try to be happy.
— Aimie 🍋🍁 🦊 (@ablissfullemon) November 16, 2017
71 likes, 11 retweets, and 99 comments/replies later, it continues to baffle me how little some people understand this illness and its effects on not just those living with it, but the friends, family, and loved ones who care for them.
Just take a look at some of these other replies from others who undoubtedly have heard them all more than once.
that a person that smiles/laughs cannot have depression.
— ✏️Maureen📚 (@AnythingMaureen) November 16, 2017
That it’s a choice not an illness. Xo
— Miss Lonely Angel (@lonelyangel1121) November 16, 2017
That we can snap out of it.
— Izenbot (@ScienceTony) November 16, 2017
Its just an excuse
— Emily || Miss You in 4 days (@tommoontheloose) November 16, 2017
That it’s easy to seek help.
— Bruce Walters (@8bWd8) November 16, 2017
Based on these myths, it is evident that people truly believe that depression itself is a myth. It’s not a real thing, just a bit of sadness for the sake of being sad, getting attention, or whatever reason you “choose” to be sad. It’s an excuse to get away with not having to do things.
Sorry, I can’t hang out today because I am sad.
How do they know you are lying? Well, you were just smiling two minutes ago, weren’t you? And besides, if you really were depressed (as if that’s a real thing), you could just go get help and be done with it. Man up and stop being a baby.
As someone who has lived with depression for pretty much my entire adult life, I can tell you firsthand that it’s not as easy to “get over” as you might think. It’s not an excuse. It’s definitely not a choice. And it really isn’t all that easy to get help, especially with people constantly telling you that it’s all in your head and there isn’t anything wrong.
Imagine if we treated physical illnesses the way we treat mental illness.
Oh, your leg is broken? Walk it off, you big baby. What do you need those crutches for? Stop using your injury as an excuse and get back to work.
You know… if you tried really hard, I bet you could get that cut in your hand to stop bleeding profusely. You just have to want it bad enough.
You can’t possibly be sick. I just saw you laughing a few minutes ago. You must be faking it because I never laugh when I’m sick.
If the thought of any one of these makes you cringe at how ridiculous it all sounds, at least now you have a small idea of how it feels for us. We don’t choose those life any more than someone chooses to have cancer. It’s not something we do for attention or some “sadness” than can so easily be forgotten.
For most of us, it’s the cage we live in every single day. It’s waking up in the morning and wondering if it’s going to be a good day or bad day before we even have a chance to think about breakfast. It’s being proud of ourselves for small victories that many people take for granted, like getting out of bed, getting dressed, or making it to work despite wanting nothing more than to crawl back under the covers, squeeze our eyes shut, and pretend that nothing else exists. We don’t want your pity, but more importantly, we don’t need your judgment.