Dummies Guide to Depression: 6 Basic Facts

I know, I know; it would seem absurd that in this day and age that I would even need to make a plea like this. You would think with all the resources and statistics available, people would understand that depression is not simply “the blues”, or a normal sadness or a “white people’s” disease.

Yet, over and over again; I find myself politely (albeit annoyed) debating this subject matter with person after person. Some days I feel like throwing my hands up and saying “Let the ignorant be ignorant!” But then what kind of mental health awareness advocate would I be?

So, here’s a Dummies Guide to Depression if you will:

It’s not just about being sad:

Though crying can be a huge part of depression; it’s so much more than simply being sad. It is a hopeless feeling. A feeling of being worthless, unworthy of love, devoid of joy. A drowning feeling of suffocating in your own mind and emotions. It’s not as simple as snapping out of it no matter how many well intentioned people try to advise you of this. Which leads me to the next tip.

You have so much to be thankful for:

In many cases while this may be true; depression does not allow you to feel thankful. We count our blessings just being able to function enough to get out the bed! The idea of having the energy to be happy for anything else can seem like a daunting task when you’re battling depression. In theory, it’s like we know that it’s not the end of the world; but some controlling part of your brain convinces you otherwise.

Depression is not logical:

So please stop trying to share your logic. Again, while your intentions might be good, it often gets lost in translation. In your attempts to make a depressed person’s mind make sense to you; you often end up belittling their feelings which is only going to exacerbate an already bad situation.

It’s Ok if we choose medication:

If I had a dime for the amount of times I’ve been told not to use medication, I’d be rich. Rich and depressed, but rich nonetheless. Everyone has to make their own decisions in terms of their health and how to treat depression. Don’t go giving bad medical advice to someone simply because you have chosen homeopathic avenues for your own emotional and mental issues. God forbid you tell the wrong person to come off their meds and they commit suicide. Yea, it’s THAT serious.

You don’t look depressed:

And you don’t look ignorant yet here we are…having this conversation. Depressed does not necessarily have a look. I’m capable of smiling on the outside, laughing, joking and even pretending I’m ok when I’m absolutely not. But that is a mechanism we learn to develop over time because we try not to drag everyone else into our pit of despair. And this is not to say that I don’t have genuine moments of happiness or joy; but don’t assume that because I was cheerful the last time we spoke that you have a firm grasp on my or anyone else’s issues.

Doctors make this up to help big pharmacy companies:

Aye man, I love a good conspiracy like the next person. I know there’s something in the water, GMO is big business, who’s behind 9/11 is questionable and so on and so forth. BUT, doctor’s didn’t conspire to create my symptoms. I was feeling these symptoms long before I ever told a professional a word. I couldn’t care less about what they label me or what information they store in their little databases about me because it’s not anything I’m not open about as it is. Sit down you wanna be Michael Moores.

I mean, this list could go on forever but at the moment I don’t have that kind of time. Perhaps I’ll revisit this in the future with additional facts for the dummies. Though I might be approaching this in a satirical manner; this is very real and very serious stuff folks. If you’re not equipped to handle someone’s depression, that is absolutely fine! But the best thing you can do is offer your ear and point them in the right direction should they confide in you!

NIMH- National Institute of Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention or Call 1-800-273-8255

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