There exists a certain stigma in the U.S. about depression and mental illness.
I know, because I’ve battled with depression all of my adolescent and adult life. Looking at me, you wouldn’t think it. I involve myself with student organizations and spend time at parties and pull A’s. But the misconception is that depressed people have something wrong with their lives, which is why they’re depressed. Not so.
Depression is the leading disability for adults aged 15-44, affecting 6.4% of the population. MEANING, one person out of every 20 people in your friends list is likely to be depressed, and they probably don’t look it. Like me, most people with depression feel cornered by society, and are pressured to keep up the act that they’re fine… which can become an overwhelming burden.
At times, I’ve withdrawn from society entirely because I was suicidal and not willing to put forward even the slightest bit of effort by getting up out of bed to face my friends, my teachers, and my colleagues. And what’s worse: I wasn’t willing to admit I needed help. Why? Because we as a society shy away from the epidemic that is depression.
Kevin Breel touches on this topic in his TED Talk, where he offers the following proof:
“Would you rather make your next Facebook status ‘I’m having trouble getting out of bed because my back hurts,’ or ‘I’m having trouble getting out of bed because I’m depressed’?”
This stigma makes it difficult for people—especially those with mental illness—to come to terms with their sickness and ask even those closest to them for support. No one wants to admit that they might be depressed because the prevailing attitude is that mental illnesses are each individual’s own problem. A problem no one wants to hear about because it’s a tough topic to deal with, so we look the other way and hope it’ll fix itself.
So I’m here, and I’m telling you all that I’m depressed. And that’s okay. We shouldn’t hide because we’re afraid that we’ll be judged, but we shouldn’t fall back on it as an excuse either. Everyone has their own life to live, but there’s no reason we should be so afraid of our peers that we conceal what can be one of the hardest things to get through alone.