When you picture someone suffering from depression, I bet you picture someone dressed all in black, sitting in bed, crying constantly whilst eating copious amounts of Ben and Jerry’s. Probably with a lot of black eyeliner and an interest in ‘emo’ music. Am I right?
There’s a massive stereotype of sufferers of mental illness in society, and it’s never a positive one. But, I guess I’m the exception to the stereotype; I don’t wear a lot of black, I don’t like emo music and I don’t spend my whole life crying (though I do like Ben and Jerry’s). As I found out when I was diagnosed with depression a year ago, it doesn’t just hit the ‘emos’ of society; young or old, rich or poor, celebrity or not, anyone can suffer – it’s not a discriminatory illness.
NHS.co.uk defines depression as ‘feeling sad, hopeless, and losing interest in things you used to enjoy’. But the reality is so much more than that… It’s wanting every day to be a duvet day; it’s feeling like you’re crap, it’s feeling like the future is bleak – even though you might be an A grade student with endless possibilities ahead of you. A friend once described depression to me as ‘being in your own little bubble’, and living life in a bubble far away from those close to you can be really difficult.
Mental illnesses are a disease in the same way that the flu or a broken leg is an illness, but the problem with society is that anything ‘mental’ is simply brushed under the carpet – it’s something that’s not real that we can simply forget about if we try hard enough. Anyone with depression who’s ever been told to simply ‘cheer up’ will know how frustrating a response this is – as if we’ve chosen to feel this way, and can just snap out of it.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that mental illness is a real thing, and it’s not just for people that are ‘crazy’ or ‘not all there’, anyone, from the straight A student at school, to the multi-millionaire celebrity, to the middle aged office worker disillusioned with life can suffer from it. It doesn’t mean someone is weak, or pathetic, just that they need a bit more help to get through every day. A quarter of people will experience a mental health problem of some description over the course of a year, so it’s time we started looking after these people rather than pretending it’s not happening! Yes, I suffer from depression, but that doesn’t mean I’m crazy – it’s no different to having the flu!
If you’re worried about yourself or someone close suffering from depression, please check out the following websites for advice and help: