Mental Illness Rant
Depression is a real illness that people all over the world experience. It is not an illness that we should notice only when a celebrity succumbs to it (though it is indeed very tragic that Robin Williams succumbed to it).
I saw a picture going around social media - a green candle with the text “Depression Awareness. Share this candle in remembrance of Robin Williams.” On the one hand, it is a positive thing that people are spreading awareness of the illness that led to Mr. Williams’ death. On the other hand, I can only wish that people will remember this illness after the grief over Mr. Williams’ death has begun to fade.
Depression does not discriminate. Anxiety does not discriminate. Self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, and so many more mental illnesses do not discriminate. They do not pick and choose - oh look at this actor or that singer or that teenager or that father, they would all be suitable sufferers. No, mental illness does discriminate, and it affects people all over the world.I could list a hundred statistics, include links to every related reputable article out there. But if I did so, would that make any difference?
Mental illness is not a thing to be forgotten and ignored and stigmatized. It is a thing to be noticed and remembered and understood to the best of one’s ability. And therein lies all the problems. Mental illness is not well understood by the general public/society/world, or even by those who are in close proximity to such illness.
Depression is seen as, “Why are you so sad? Just think of happy thoughts. Or watch a funny movie. Or go hang out with your friends.”
Self-harm is seen as, “Why would you do that? That’s so stupid. However you’re feeling isn’t worth hurting yourself.”
Suicide is seen as, “That’s so selfish. That’s a stupid, permanent solution to a temporary problem. What about your loved ones?”
And the above are merely samples of what I have heard personally. Yes, I’ve had such statements and statements of their ilk said to me time and time again during the most severe period of my depression. Did they think that I could just will the illness away? Obviously. Did they think that I could pull self-value from thin air? They must have. Did they think that I thought myself worth any tears? It seems so.
But no, they were all wrong. Because depression is not just a sad mood. Depression is a dark, dark fog that descends around you (and only you, from your perspective). It clouds your mind, makes the entire world seem bleak. It sucks away your self-worth and self-value and any positive thoughts you may have ever held of yourself. It makes extreme and dangerous coping methods (such as self-harm) seem like good ideas; it makes pain seem like it is more than you deserve. And when it has done all that, it makes it seem like the whole world would be better off without you, so why don’t you just get it over with?
That’s what depression is. And it affected me - an otherwise healthy college student with a supportive family, wonderful friends, and a bright future. It left scars on my things and calves. It left scars on my mind and scars on the minds of those who helped me pull myself from the fog. Mental illness does not discriminate.
Mental illness is real and serious. It is not something that can be ignored any longer. How many more people will the world lose to mental illness because the sufferers did not have the support they needed? How many more people will it take for the world to realize that yes, mental illness is a thing.
I have gone through the fog of severe depression and made it through to the other side because I was lucky enough to have wonderful support. I know there are many out there who are not so lucky and many more who will not be so lucky. But how many lives could the world save if we ended the stigma against mental health and illness?
And this is why I joined 7Cups and why I am applying to start a TWLOHA chapter at my college - so that the stigma can be gone from this world forever and so that no more need to suffer alone.
And besides, I always thought that “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” was terribly condescending. I mean, the words are true enough, but it could not have been phrased any better? Really?
People who are considering suicide are, for the most part, looking for a permanent solution. That is the whole point of suicide, last I considered it. And for people in that position, what they are going through will not at all seem like some temporary problem that could be wished away. Because, from my personal experience, suicide is the last resort. When everything else has been tried (and everything that has been tried has failed), suicide seems like the only option. It truly seems as if there are no other options. And people who use that statement seem not to understand any of that.
But I doubt the statement will go away or change any time soon…