One of the things that peeve me the most is when people romanticize depression. There are people who treat depression like it’s something deep, and special, and so wonderfully tragic, and maybe it is all those things to some extent. But it’s also an ugly feeling, and it’s not the sort of thing you should wish upon anyone—not even yourself.
What kills me is that the majority of these people—those I have the good/bad luck of knowing—might not even have depression to begin with. Maybe some of them do, and in that case, they can wax poetic about depression as much as the want, if it helps, but I’m writing this now in the hopes that the people who don’t have depression will stop. While I have mentioned that it’s something I personally find annoying, the following are some reasons which I hope will be good enough to deter anyone reading this from ever behaving in this manner in the future:
It’s offensive to people who actually have depression.
You may not be making light of their situation, but you’re not helping, either. If you check out articles on helping people cope with grief, you’ll see that ‘I know just what you’re going through’ is the last thing you should tell a grieving person, and the same holds true between people with depression and people without. If you don’t have it, you can’t possibly know what it’s like, because there’s a difference between being generally unhappy and having depression.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade (but this isn’t the way how).
People would say that you should make the most out of any given situation, but romanticizing a mental illness is a really twisted way to go about it. For one thing, while I suppose you’re kind of injecting positive connotations in the disease by making it cool, you’re also doing it in a very dark way because by treating it as something that is “cool” you may also be inspiring countless others to join in on the “cool”-ness that is depression and thereby messing up their lives. Which does more harm?
You might be conditioning yourself into depression.
Think of your own well-being. By shrouding yourself in a constant state of sadness, you may actually be subconsciously willing yourself into depression. But depression isn’t just about feeling sad all the time and artfully ‘suffering’, it’s about (I’m putting this in the most blunt way possible) feeling like a soggy, stepped-on poop. You feel as if you don’t have the energy, ability, or will to do anything productive. You’re tired, but you can’t sleep. The activities that used to make you happy—even eating—cease to appeal to you. It’s actually pretty much the opposite of feeling inspired, and…
It’s not a substitute for depth.
In a related article, I read the phrase ‘depression is not a substitute for a personality’. To add to that thought, I’d like to bring up that being depressed does not directly equate to a depth and breadth of understanding—and especially not intelligence. It’s not your circumstances you are in that make you deep, it’s your takeaways from them, while your ability to form and create coherent takeaways from these events is what might constitute for intelligence. What I want to point out here is that the artists, scientists and people of any background who have thrived in their respective fields did not do so as a result of depression. They may have done so because of depression, and certainly did so in spite of depression, but there is no direct causality between depression and good output. On that note, …
You don’t need depression to be special.
Again, it’s never depression that allows people to make great work, but their own skill at transforming their experiences into something useful. This applies for any kind of experience—from the most inconsequential proceedings to wholly life-altering events. An important life lesson for anybody is that you don’t have to look for great stories, material, or data for your work. Take stock of what you have, watch them closely, and you’ll realize that you have a whole arsenal of fragments waiting to be turned into output, at your disposal.