I was reading this article, and I thought it was off to a good start, until I got to this part:
“People have various reasons why they are battling depression. Whether you lost a loved one, lost your job, or even battling substance abuse just know you can get through it.”
I had to force myself to read the rest, because that alone had me pissed off and I lost all faith in the writer.
Why? What’s wrong with what she said? Well, I’ll tell you.
While it is true that depression can be caused, triggered, or worsened by all the things she mentioned, these particular things do not need to be present for depression to exist.
Unfortunately, the way the author wrote this article, it may come across, to people who don’t understand depression, like there has to be a cause for someone to be depressed, and that simply is not true.
And based on some of the comments on the article, I am not the only one who feels this way about the article.
In many cases, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Situations like the loss of a loved one, can certainly trigger a depressive episode in people who are more susceptible to mental illness, especially depression and anxiety. The problem with the way the article was written is that the writer only acknowledges situational depression.
I’m not trying to devalue the impact of situational depression, because I know it is real, but what she neglected to mention is the fact that most people who experience depression, experience a chronic or repeated episodic form of depression, caused by a chemical imbalance, rather than a situation.
The most important thing to note is that every person experiences depression and mental illness differently. As different as every person’s personality is, is how different every one’s depression will be.
The other thing a lot of people don’t realize is there are different types of depression. Yeah, yeah, saying that after saying it is different for everyone sounds like I’m contradicting myself, I know.
Consider conditions like asthma, physical disability, cancer, or even allergies. They are all classified by terms that are understood by the general population. Not necessarily the actual medical definitions, especially if you haven’t experienced them, but I think it is safe to say that most people know that asthma is a condition that effects breathing and of course everyone knows cancer is a serious illness that people die from.
Cancer specifically, is an group of conditions and there are many different types of cancer that effect different parts of the body. Like cancer, there are many different types of mental illness and they all have different symptoms effecting different parts of the brain and how it processes information.
Even though there are specific criteria someone must meet to receive a specific diagnosis, that doesn’t mean that each person with the same diagnosis will have the same combination of symptoms or even have certain symptoms that present in the same way. The severity of each symptom will from person to person as well.
For example some people with depression may feel intense sadness and withdraw from their friends and family but others may not really feel sad, but more empty, like all their emotions have been taken away. Many are often easily agitated and irritable, and it may come across as being rude or inconsiderate to others. None of those things mean someone has more or less severe depression. It simply manifests itself differently for each person.
Situational depression is a legitimate form of depression, but a lot of people with depression actually feel like they don’t have a legitimate reason to be depressed. This often causes them to feel like maybe that means their depression isn’t legitimate.
I was one of those people. I have never felt like I had a reason to be depressed, yet I was. I am. I still struggle with it, daily. But feeling like I had no reason to be depresses is part of what caused me to keep my feelings bottled up inside. Ultimately, it made my depression increasingly worse until I finally realized that was I was feeling wasn’t normal and the fact that I didn’t have anything specific to be depressed about was just my depression trying to mislead me into believing it wasn’t real. I still constantly have to remind myself of this.
I know other people have it worse. I know some don’t have it quite as bad. That doesn’t make my experiences any more or less significant. It also doesn’t make anyone else’s experiences any more or less significant. Our individual experiences are important to each of us. They help make us who we are today.
Depression feeds on any belief, no matter how small, that what we’re feeling isn’t real or legitimate. It tries it’s hardest to convince us that it isn’t really there, that we’re just crazy. It makes us believe that no one else will believe us, so we keep all the pain bottled up, hiding it from everyone around us, pretending it isn’t there. At least that’s my experience. I can’t speak for everyone.
And that is another thing that bothered me about the article. It was written as though the writer’s experience is the only way depression can be experienced. She did not acknowledge that everyone experiences depression differently, and it is that sort of thing that contributes to the stigma around mental illness.
The only way to get rid of the stigma of mental illness is to help others understand it, and the only way to do that is to talk about it, but we have to talk about it accurately. Portraying your own experience as the only legitimate experience is not the way to do that.
I realize it was probably not the intention of the writer to sound like their depression was the only legit type of depression, but it would have been so easy for her to throw in a quick message at the beginning or end of the article simply acknowledging that she was speaking of her own personal experience and no one else’s. That would have regained my trust in her message, but she didn’t, making it sound as though there was no other way to experience depression, and that’s the problem.