With the recent death of Robin Williams, America has had to face the reality of depression and suicide as a fact of life. I saw ads on the tv for the suicide prevention hotline, ads for depression, an outpouring of remorse and sadness that his death brought. I was feeling both sad and hopeful. Sad for the loss of a great talent who was suffering without the public’s knowledge and hopeful that this would bring a change to the way we as Americans view mental illness, especially depression. But then I wondered… how long will this tolerance last before it’s stigmatized again and not seen as a disease that can be treated but as a weakness.
Depression isn’t something that you “snap out of.” It’s a serious illness that should be counted among those things such as diabetes, cancer, etc. because the person suffering from it has no way of controlling it besides meds, and that doesn’t work all the time. But it’s not treated as such. It’s treated as a weakness that a person has, and therefore a lot of people suffering from depression won’t tell others about their disease, but keep it private because of the stigma attached to it.
Imagine days when you open your eyes in bed, all you want to do is retreat back under the covers because moving requires so much effort that it’s painful. Imagine not being able to enjoy things you love like reading, tv, sports, etc. Imagine a world where nothing seems right or good enough and that it’s painful to be awake. These are things that people with depression struggle with on a daily basis. So you can’t (and shouldn’t) sit there and tell them that they just need to get some fresh air or just do things that they used to like to do and they’ll get their passion back for it. You shouldn’t tell them to appreciate what they have… they do in their own way. And you shouldn’t make them feel like less of a human being for being depressed. Telling a person with depression that they can snap out of it is like telling someone with cancer that they can cure their own disease in an instant.
So before you go out each day and live your life, be thankful that you’re not one of those affected by depression, and if you are, try to keep your head held high and do the best you can to live out your day.