“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:24-25
This post might be a bit controversial and different from my usual posts, but I feel the need to voice my opinion about this issue directly and openly. This has been an issue for me for a while, but I did not have the right words to voice it properly until recently.
And like most things, change cannot take place until there is an open dialogue where everyone can contribute and learn from each other.
So where should I start talking about this issue?
When I work up the courage to tell people I suffer from depression, something that has run in my family for many generations, I often get many different kinds of reactions and responses. The one that always drives me batty is when someone says, “Oh yeah! I had depression for like six months after I broke up with my boyfriend. Then I eventually got over it”, or something like that.
This might sound like a harmless, if not a bit flippant, statement of someone trying to relate to someone else, but it can be much more to the person on the other side of this conversation.
Let me make one thing very clear – you do not just “get over” depression.
Clinical, diagnosable depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, just like anxiety disorders and ADHD and OCD, and others I am not very familiar with. It is something that people who have it have to wrestle with for their whole lives. Some use various kinds of medication; some use counseling, others just muscle through it all independently (which is a method I do not recommend AT ALL).
When depression is dismissed as just a “phase” or a “midlife crisis” or a “rut”, it invalidates just how serious depression is for those who struggle with it in their daily lives.
I try not to use the word “depressed” in everyday conversation because the more the word is casually thrown around, the less meaning the professional diagnosis holds to people. I am generally not one for policing words and terminology as this often offends people instead of fostering awareness, but this word is one of my exceptions.
When people say that they have been depressed, my concern skyrockets, since to me, the word “depression” has a much larger connotation than just being bummed out. It means that this person is struggling to find happiness in their daily lives in any way, and in the worst case, they are having a hard time even finding the will to live.
People like me who know what natural depression is like take the word, in any context, very seriously. Others who do not have much experience or knowledge about depression do not take the term seriously because they have just heard it used as an interchangeable synonym for sad.
Think of it like this:
DEPRESSION IS NOT A SETBACK, IT IS A SERIOUS, AND OFTEN INCURABLE SICKNESS.
This is not to say that all people with depression take offense to this word being used without a thought in a casual context. I just know that sometimes, having something minimized or misunderstood is worse than not being acknowledged at all.
Above all, I try to use situations like this to educate others about depression. Most people minimize something because they are either intimidated by it or do not understand it. Raising awareness about clinical depression can eliminate this ignorance and reduce the likelihood of people struggling with depression feel like their battles are being minimized and waved off.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do in a situation where you do not entirely understand something is to respectfully ask questions instead of trying to draw misinformed comparisons from your own life and experiences.
If you like my content and would like to read more about my journey, I have some of my older posts linked below, and I would love it if you would give these a read as well!
Some of my older posts:
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Until next time!