Depression is an illness just as cancer is an illness. Like a fluid released from a ruptured cyst, it will permeate your brain until you can no longer take the pain. You won’t know when it’ll hit you and when it does, there’s no escape. And if you are suffering from this condition, then you are mentally ill.
It’s easy to claim that we are depressed; in fact, many people still mistake their sadness for depression. However, nobody wants to broadcast that he or she is mentally ill, to put the word out there for the world to hear. It’s not so hard to see why.
For many countries, mental health is still an uncharted territory. With the majority of the population still turning a blind eye on mental health issues, and with the stigma around it, admitting that you are mentally impaired is synonymous to claiming that you are crazy, psychotic, pathetic, crybaby, or whatever names they call mental health sufferers.
It seems that we’re still far from witnessing the day when we can finally walk the streets wearing our mental health badges without being looked down upon by the society. It doesn’t come off as a surprise, though, as women have been fighting for equal rights for goodness knows how long.
Depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder… You have to know they are not beautiful. All those self-confessions and TV shows depicting the real-life struggles of mentally ill people are not beautiful. Nobody wants to talk about their struggles openly only to see a hint of prejudice in the eyes of those who are listening. Nobody wants to publicize a self-confession only to be rejected by a job recruiter for being emotionally weak, for having a low emotional IQ. No one wants to be called “psychotic” by a colleague who has read their online article. No one wants to seek help from a doctor only to be judged by the people as they walk down the clinic hallways. Nobody wants to suffer from any kind of mental illness. End of story.
Being mentally ill is not a choice. Heck, if it were, a simple “it will get better” reminder from my best friend would have cured my depression. But it’s not. And then here comes the people who are so quick to dismiss our struggles, who are so quick to tell we’re glamorizing the issue by writing about it.
No one wants to admit to themselves they are mentally ill, much more broadcast it for the world to know. But you must know this: we share stories of our struggles to let people know that mental health is a thing.
Personally, I am not comfortable publishing posts about my struggles because 1) I don’t want people to look down on me and treat me as if I am a vulnerable little crybaby 2) recruiters would see them, which means they could instantly dismiss my chances of working for them.
This happened to my friend, though. She had been a candidate for a higher position until her boss saw her online posts about her depression and told her she has low emotional IQ. The result? She did not get the position. Long story short, I don’t want to be tagged as the “girl with depression.”
You see, this is not some kind of dating trend that people invent to have the internet talking about it. Our stories are not like those click-bait articles that people publish to boost their website traffic. We don’t invent stories for the sake of likes. We write the pain as we go through it because the process of letting out what we think and feel at the moment helps us heal.
And even though we’re not comfortable with publicizing our personal battles, we share them because we care. And you should care, too. You can start by opening your eyes.
Mental illness is not beautiful, but we can make the pain a little bit bearable by ending the hate. Remember, everything affects everything; if the world were more open about the realities of the mentally ill, we would hear less news about people dying by suicide. Every action (and inaction) counts. Keep that in mind.