I don’t know how to be happy.

It’s a tough day today.

I can’t feel anything today. Not physically, but emotionally. I have no feelings. I have nothing.

I’ve been staring at the ceiling. I tried to take a nap because I’m always tired, but I couldn’t sleep at all. I’m sitting here and I still can’t think of what to write.

This is what depression is. People like to think that we can just cheer up and shake it off, but we can’t. When I say it’s debilitating, I mean it. I cannot do anything.

The word ‘depression,’ gets thrown around all the time. And this is why the stigma of mental illness is so awful. Do you know how many times I have heard that someone is depressed because they were sad?

There are two definitions to be aware of here.

Depression: a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies

Sadness: causing or associated with grief or unhappiness

Depression is a medical condition. It is a disability that isn’t able to be cured or fixed instantly. Depression affects all of your day, not just the one part that made you unhappy.

So please, when you’re sad that your favorite show got canceled and you say that you’re so ‘depressed,’ about it… know that you are discrediting depression as a legitimate disorder. You are pairing unhappiness with sorrow. Unhappiness can be fixed by having a movie day with your best friend. Depression cannot.

People who suffer from mental illnesses can feel afraid and embarrassed to mention it because they’re mostly labeled as ‘unhappy.’ There’s a reason that suicide and depression are silent killers: we’re too afraid to come forward because you don’t think we’re serious.

There are a lot of people, like me, who have to take medication to stay afloat. Some people will be on antidepressants for the rest of their lives. Listen to me here: some of us will have to take medication for THE REST OF OUR LIVES to cure our ‘sadness.’

We cannot call in sick with depression like we can with the flu. If I’m throwing up, it’s obvious that I’m not fit to work that day and I take a day off to get better. When I have a very bad mental day, responsibilities do not go away.

With most disabilities, people understand and they are helpful and kind. They wouldn’t think twice about holding the door open for a wheelchair, for example. But with depression, you can’t see the symptoms so we suffer in silence. And when we call out for help, we’re met with responses like “oh you’ll be fine.”

So anyway, the reason for this post is to ask you to just stop saying that, ok? Can you not equate sad with depressed? Can you accept that I have a disability that is tough for me to handle?

Your favorite show got canceled, and that’s a real big bummer. You’re allowed to be sad about it, but you are not depressed. Cool?

– A

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