Claire Miller is a student who battles with depression. She hopes to help end the stigma of mental illness by sharing her own experiences.
Depression is an non-discriminatory mental illness that affects 1 in 6 people in the UK alone. Despite this, there are still people out there who still just don't get that depression isn't just a moment of feeling a bit sad. These people often try to spread their ignorance onto sufferers in an attempt to get them to "get over it".
This isn't necessarily done in a malicious way, but it can be frustrating and make the sufferer feel even more alone than before.
Anyway, here are some of the things that people suffering with depression are sick of hearing:
"You don't seem depressed to me" or "But you always seem so happy"
Because, of course, you have to look depressed to actually be depressed. Just like most of society, people with depression only want others to see their best side. It's sometimes difficult for those of us with depression to accept the reality of having depression. So the last thing we need when we admit to ourselves and others that we have a mental illness is a challenge. It's as though the person is saying, "Prove it". My proof is not pretty, and I'm too ashamed to show it to closed minded people like that.
"You just need to exercise and eat healthily"
Sure, these things have proven to help aid a person battling depression. However depression can rear its ugly head in a variety of different ways, and sometimes no amount of kale and puddles of sweat made at the gym is going to help make it go away. My depression is due to chemical imbalances and psychological factors. Exercise and healthy food will not help me talk through my issues. And besides, sometimes I genuinely just need some apple pie or chippy chips (my go-to comfort food) to get me through the day.
"There are people in worse positions than you"
There will always be someone worse off, but that doesn't invalidate my depression. You don't remind a person with cancer or any other physical illness that there are people in worse positions than them. It doesn't stop them from having cancer, and it doesn't stop me from having depression. Either you're trying to shame me for wallowing in my depression, or you're trying to use the knowledge that there are people worse off than me to make me feel grateful... Either one isn't helpful.
"But you have no reason to be depressed!"
I know that! Believe it or not, I didn't choose to become depressed. It happened. A number of different factors caused my depression and built upon it. Sure, maybe right now I have nothing to be depressed about, but I still have depression. By telling a person that they need a valid reason to feel down or upset, you will likely exacerbate their pain and make them feel devalued. We need to reach out and speak up about our struggles with depressions, and statements like this make it all the more difficult to do.
"You just need to get out more"
Depression isn't just a matter of being lazy and staying in all of the time. It is battling to get out of bed every day; pushing to believe that you're worth spending what little energy you have on feeding yourself and maintaining personal hygiene. It's exhausting being depressed. I'm slowly recovering, but the one thing I cannot shift is the fatigue. And that is what makes it seemingly impossible at times to "get out more". I know I need to, but I'm sometimes so exhausted that I take a two hour nap during the day, and still oversleep during the night. I want to get out more and socialise more, but it's really not as simple as that.
"You'll just have to get on with it"
This one I have heard a few times, and it just sends the wrong message entirely. I don't want to deal with this for the rest of my life. I want to beat it, or at least batter it enough that I'm the alpha in my own mind again. Telling someone with depression that they'll just have to deal with it diminishes any speck of hope that they may still have that they can get through this. It can make the battle seem pointless, and it's not. So don't dismiss it like that.
"Just snap out of it"
If only it was that easy! Don't you think I would have "snapped out of it" six years ago if it was that simple? This sentence frustrates me the most. It is ignorant, insensitive, and just plain wrong. I have no more words to say about this.
If you know someone suffering with depression, just know one thing: that person needs someone in their life who will listen without judgement. If you want to be that person for them, I will give you some advice. Do some research on depression and its causes and symptoms, and really actively listen to the person. Helping them with simple tasks, offering food, just being there, can help make a world of difference to that one person.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Claire Miller
Kenna McHugh from Northern California on February 01, 2018:
Understanding the true causes of depression is key to understanding depression. I have seen my fair share of people suffering from depression and helped them immensely because I helped them discover for themselves what caused their depression. In all, each individual is unique but discovering the cause of mental angst is what we all share.
RTalloni on February 01, 2018:
It certainly can be difficult for people who do not understand depression to help someone who is to cope well. Depression is a widespread problem, with sufferers often doing the best they can to put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. It's heartbreaking for sufferers and for those who love them.
We are created with extremely complex bodies and minds, which is the reason the very limited world of medicine cannot offer the solution for sufferers. Truth as found in the following resources offers real help:
Trusting God Even When Life Hurts from J. Bridges
Ganz's book PsychoBabble: The Failure of Modern Psychology...
C. Brauns' UnPacking Forgiveness
Claire Miller (author) on February 01, 2018:
Denise, I totally understand that. I can have weeks where my depression is manageable and I think I'm finally getting on top of things...only to one day plummet into yet another well of despair. It's frustrating enough without the insensitivity of others. I have to walk away from people like that and get them out of my life, because their comments are not going to help me get back on top.
Claire Miller (author) on February 01, 2018:
Jenn, that is very true. I understand that some people have no experience of mental illnesses, but it's lack of empathy that you're sometimes met when you try and explain it to someone that bothers me. To me, the comments mentioned in my article are like seven cold steel doors slammed shut. The people who say them usually don't understand - nor do they want to.
Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on January 15, 2018:
I have suffered from depression for over twenty years. I, too, have heard these insensitive comments. To me, depression and anxiety are like a chronic illness. The symptoms and issues are always there, but they fluctuate depending upon what is happening in my life. I have had to learn how to shut off my heart to the insensitivity of others. As I have done so, I am able to preserve my feelings of self-worth and increase my ability to function effectively.
Jenn from Pennsylvania on January 13, 2018:
As a sufferer of depression I have heard all of these. It can be difficult for people to understand if they haven't experienced it themselves.