To start, I want to talk about the definition of depressed. As an adjective, it means, “in a state of general unhappiness or despondency.” As a verb, it means, “to make someone utterly dispirited or dejected.”
As in, “I am so depressed about failing my bio quiz last week.”
As in, “I am so depressed about gaining five pounds this weekend.”
Or in my case, as in, “I am so depressed I can’t make it through the day without thinking about death.”
See, there are different kinds of depressed. There’s bummed out depressed, there’s exaggerated depressed, and then there’s us.
We’re not depressed because we failed a bio test or because we weigh more than we did yesterday. Our problems, like yours, make us sad. But they’re a little different: problems like wondering how we’re going to make it through the day. Or how we’re going to explain to people that we’re not sad because we failed a test or we think we’re overweight, but that we don’t actually know why we’re like this.
Because sometimes, we don’t know. We don’t know why we’re sad. We don’t know why we’re depressed, or why we’re always like this. All we know is that we don’t want to be like this, and we don’t want to be treated like it’s our fault.
So a word of caution to all who think we’re playing this game for attention: depression is a scientifically proven mental illness that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world. So by saying that we’re not actually sad is like saying religious people don’t actually believe in a higher power. Sure, there are some people trying to fake it, but the majority of them actually do believe in something.
You don’t just walk up to a Christian and say, “you don’t believe in God.” So why do you think it’s okay for you to walk up to me and say, “you’re not depressed?”
My first boyfriend… his father didn’t “believe” in mental illness. He called me an “emo freak.” Like I was some sort of monster.
I almost killed myself over those words. I spent a year and a half with “emo freak” hanging above my head like a storm cloud. I spent my whole freshman year thinking I was a monster because of this one person.
Don’t be that person. Please. Depression and all mental illnesses really do exist. They’re as real as you feeling sad because you failed a bio test, or you gained some weight, except that we feel it all the time. We are the true warriors of this world, not because we save people, although we might, but because we saved ourselves. We are saving ourselves. And because we are doing that, we are setting an example for others trying to save themselves.
In fact, if we are doing that, then we are saving people. We’re using what we’re given for the greater good.
Depression is more than just an illness. It becomes you. It becomes who you are; it engulfs you. And for you to say that it doesn’t exist is denying us, right in front of you. It’s not just wrong. It’s unacceptable.
I don’t ever want to be called an “emo freak” again. And to think I almost lost my life over something so insignificant and closed minded scares me.
So now I end with a question: would you want to be treated this way? Would you want somebody to call you an “emo freak” just because you were born or have acquired something that doctors don’t even know how to cure? Would that make you feel any better about yourself? Would that suddenly get the point across and with the snap of their fingers, make you feel better?
So before you deny others, think about this: will it hurt someone or help someone who can’t help themselves? Will it make you feel better about yourself or just make you angry?
Would you be willing to be the reason someone is dead?
Depression is more than just a definition. It has become me. But it is no longer. I am willing to fight for myself and advocate for the ones who can’t. I am me; a survivor of depression, a fighter. And I won’t let anybody break me down again.