Stereotypes of depression fail to show real consequences of mental illness

By Lexi Sheeley

Have you ever romanticized depression? Or even seen or heard it? It’s not an uncommon thing, and those romanticizing it do not understand how emotions work.

Movies and television shows create a depressed main character caught in stereotypical pity parties arising only from life circumstances. They take loads of antidepressants, and face people telling them to get over it.

Thus the jokes of people saying that when they hear sad music, they just want to watch it rain and feel as heartbroken as the artist. Or thinking it’s OK to say they’re depressed because they had a bad hair day. Tumblr and Instagram are filled with pictures of cigarette boxes or razor blades with quotes  on the lines of “you’re going to die anyway.”

Wake up people. Depression is a real thing, and those romanticizing it make the millions of people suffering from it either feel like they’re not alive anymore or angry at the fact that so many people think it’s OK to joke about it.

People also seem to romanticize that people who deal with depression are scums and liars, as if people with mental illnesses can’t be happy for part of the day. God forbid someone who “claims” to be depressed could have a good day without being called a liar.

Depression is a chemical imbalance within one’s brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that produces sadness. In some cases the brain pumps out more serotonin cells. Now, it can be caused by stress or distractions in life, but most of the time it is just an imbalance that one’s brain has made.

Those who suffer from depression don’t have to be traumatized to be depressed. When people tell someone to get over themselves as they let their emotions out, they are making it clear it’s OK to dehumanize someone in the ways of telling them the things they feel are stupid and exaggerated.

Place yourself in a dark box. The air is heavy, and your body is floating aimlessly. Your mouth seems to speak words you don’t comprehend, and as you float around, the darkness seeps into your body. The heaviness has invaded your system, and it simply won’t just drain out.

Who you are is trapped in that box, a metaphor for your feelings, and the invisible coat of depression has taken control.

It makes you want to sleep. Sleep isn’t a bad thing, but when all you do is sleep, you’re neglecting yourself from things you need.

Depression does not like food. It’s hard to eat once your insides feel as if they are deteriorating. You don’t want your family to realize that you feel as if you can’t function, so you slide your food around the plate to look as if you ate a little.

After, you trudge back into your room where you collapse and feel nothing. Nothing. That is not a good feeling.

The emotional pain gets to be too much, and you spend time shaking and crying as you try to tell yourself nothing is wrong. The next day you go for a run. Exercise is said to make you feel better. Endorphins are released when you exercise, and you hope this will solve your feelings.

But it doesn’t.

Feeling ashamed, you finally sit in a room with a psychiatrist for medication. With people around you joking about depression, you don’t want to fall into that pit of humiliation. Your psychiatrist explains that depression affects a variety of people varying from age to gender to life circumstances.

There isn’t always an explanation for how you’re feeling, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. Take your medication.

Ignore ignorant people who joke. Do what’s best for you. You begin taking your medication for a few months, and you start feeling more energized. Medication doesn’t solve anything; it’s just a boost to get you out of the dark pit.

After a few more weeks, you spend time outside starting to enjoy the beauty of the world. Your appetite comes back, and your parent’s sigh with relief.

Depression is something that hits hard. Unable to feel anything is not a blessing, and being in a society where mental illnesses are joked about isn’t a blessing either.

It is far from OK to loosely throw the word “depression” around.

Don’t take away resources for those who are struggling. Don’t take away their hopes. Don’t let them live a dark life. Help them find the light switch in the box.

It only takes one helping hand to make all the difference. Life is supposed to be enjoyed, so why do we let one another suffer through it?

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