I’m getting something off my chest that has been tugging at my patience for quite some time, and while it may offend a few, I’m willing to take that risk to get this message out. We often hear about the word “love” being thrown around so often without people truly knowing the meaning; however, I think there is a much more serious and certainly more hurtful misused word: depression.
The incorrect use of the word “depressed” is often just that.. incorrect. To say it in the simplest way possible, depression is not synonymous with sad. Having a bad day, or even a bad week for that matter, does not make you depressed, it makes you normal. The difference between sadness and depression is that sadness is a normal human emotion felt by absolutely everyone. Depression cannot be interrupted by humour or happy memories; depression consumes every part of every day.
When you make your post on Facebook about how depressed you are, and then relate it to your favourite series ending, the shoes that were all sold out in your size or the C you got on your last paper, you are insulting everyone struggling with this very, serious illness. Maybe you just got broken up with, or perhaps you’ve been having a really hard time at work, maybe you’re even struggling to pay your bills, but when you replace the adjectives you should be using such as “heartbroken,” “sad,” “frustrated,” or “stressed” with the word “depressed,” you are minimizing a very serious mental illness that has claimed thousands of lives.
I do, however, give this generation a bit of grace. We have been ripped of our opportunities to be children – to make mistakes and get hurt. Our society has come to naively believe that every accident or harm inflicted on their children can somehow be prevented. They shelter their children from anything that could lead to a couple tears shed, and give into every cry rather than teaching children to “shake it off.” Kids grow up believing that every injury or illness, even the common cold, requires a visit to the doctor, and don’t get me started on the pharmaceutical companies who will give pills to almost anyone who asks for them; a prescription from your doctor for anti-depressants doesn’t necessarily confirm your claim of depression; a simple “I’m sad a lot” will more than likely get you a signed signature on a three month prescription for a pill that you do not need.
While I myself have been fortunate enough not to have experienced depression, and have no place in telling anyone what depression is and is not, I have, however, watched people very close to my heart struggle with this cruel, relentless illness and I can say with absolute confidence that depression is not an emotion, because saying that depression is just an emotion implies that it is only a state of mind, when in reality, depression affects the entire body. Depression can be seen as inability to sleep, or sleeping too much, losing your appetite and experiencing a change in weight. Depression can alter a persons ability to think rationally and make the right decisions, or their ability to concentrate on anything at all for that matter. You cannot be depressed one day, and positive and enthusiastic the next, that is not how this illness works, though I’m sure many wish it was.
I’m sure all of us are guilty of misusing this illness as a way to express to others our strong emotions being felt at that time, but the next time you post that beautiful selfie with a sullen look, and attach the word “depressed” to it, please think a little more critically. These are real people struggling with real mental illnesses that we are mocking.