7 April 2017 – WHO is leading a one-year global campaign on depression. The highlight is World Health Day 2017, celebrated today. The goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help. Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.
Ill. Disability. Millions of people. Everywhere in the world.
Depression sounds scary. And it is, don’t be fooled. But what isn’t scary, is to be open about it. I remember the #notjustsad going round on Twitter and I think this is a perfect description for my personal experience with depression.
As of today, I am 20 years old, I am physically very healthy, I have enough food, shelter, health insurance, clothes, friends and a family. I am in college, I have a job. How could anyone be unhappy about this?
Truth is, people with depression don’t see it that way. At the peak of my (what I call) “sad-bunny-phase” (I like self-depricating humour, I am not downplaying any aspect of the illness), I could have had millions in my bank account, a hot boyfriend, great friends, a jetset lifestyle – outer circumstances don’t matter. It is true, for me, that certain triggers (death of my grandfather, my sister leaving, uncertainty about my life) lead to a depressive phase in the past. But there is always more to it. More that you cannot explain to other people.
I am not trying to get pity from anyone. Noone with a depression is seeking for attention in any way. (Something you must understand btw)
An illness that affects more people than we would know and the numbers are rising. It doesn’t have to affect you, but it could. It can affect anyone – mothers, workaholics, your best friend, a partner. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you if you experience depression. There is nothing you could have done to prevent it. There are many ways to treat depression, but it is noone’s fault to get into this state in the first place. You don’t choose having a depression, as scary as it sounds, it chooses you, in a way.
There is endless stigma when it comes to mental health issues. It doesn’t matter if it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder. If I can’t physically see it, it’s not there. If I cannot touch it, it doesn’t exist.
Stop thinking like that. Be respectful. You don’t have to understand everything, you can educate yourself (no, you should, really), but just because it’s not a situation that’s bothering you directly right now, it doesn’t mean that you can look down on others. Sooner or later a friend or a relative might deal with depression and you can help them, if you are prepared and non-judgemental.
I have had a depression for years now and it is nothing that goes away over night. I’d like to compare it to an eating disorder (though I don’t have any experience with that), where there is the “active” phase and the recovery. Just because you don’t feel sad, hopeless or defeated every hour of every day, doesn’t mean you’re magically healed. It takes a lot of time and effort to get out of a depression. And there is no wrong or right way to get healthy again.
You find the treatment that is working for you. You are not weak if you choose to take medication. You are not stupid if you want to try it naturally.
You can get help. Talk to a friend, your mom, your guidance counselor, a teacher or your doctor. There are many Medical Services around the world where you can get help. If somebody tells you, your problem isn’t real, don’t listen. Talk to a professional and stay strong. Brighter days will come. ❤