Depression is Real But We Treat It Like Fiction
According to the New York Times, suicide related deaths are the highest that they’ve ever been in the past 30 years. It is a staggeringly unsettling fact. I thought it was 2016? What could possibly be at cause for such a horrible thing?
Wait, I know…
We still aren’t having a real conversation about it, so let me get very real with you.
I could spend the entirety of this piece spewing numbers and facts, but what does that really solve? We need to get to the bottom of why mental illness is still an uncomfortable topic of discussion. Why is it that we can openly speak about mass genocide, rape and many other grandiose horrors in the world, but then have nothing to say when it comes to ailments of the mind? That is ridiculous. Whether you acknowledge it or not; you or someone close to you is currently experiencing a form of mental illness. And in this era of safe spaces and support groups–how is it that things are only getting worse?
I have a theory.
Fear of judgement. Fear of harm. Fear of exclusion. Fear of failing to conquer one’s mind. That is the true problem behind it all; deep, far beneath the plastic surface of antidepressants and group meetings. There is so much more to helping the problem than expensive sessions with a psychiatrist and stuffing colorful pills down a person’s throat. America likes to relegate human lives to numbers, because it’s easier to tell a number to shut up, take its pills, and deal with its problems. We don’t like to put faces and names to mental illness because that makes it too real for us. We like to pretend as if it doesn’t exist… until it does. Then, of course we’re devastated because it directly affects us. Only then do we become activists for the lives of those who don’t see the value in their lives.
Then on the flip side, we like to call those who think of taking their lives cowards, as if they aren’t already in immense pain. We call those who try to speak out “attention whores”, and shame them for trying to be open about what’s going on in their minds. Ironically, act surprised when they finally crack and take their lives or drag the life of an innocent with them into their abyss of negative emotions.
Time To Be Frank…
We’ve come to a place where we’re so focused on the surface that we no longer even think to dive into that which is beyond what the naked eye can perceive. It is no coincidence that the suicide rate has increased as we have become less and less aware of the fact that we are all interconnected. So, with all of that having been said… who really is at fault here? Do you really think that the issue is drugs not being strong enough? Perhaps the psychiatrists aren’t doing their part? Or maybe the system has just completed failed as a whole? I don’t think so. I think the real answer is right in front of us, and has been for a very long time.
It’s anyone who ignored the signs, didn’t care enough to ask questions when they saw them, or simply minimized the issue because it didn’t have a direct impact on their lives. And this isn’t me pointing the finger calling anyone a bad person, because we’ve all been guilty of apathy. I understand. The past is the past, but this is now.
From this point forward, we do what we can to incite some sort of change. We have to talk about mental illness openly and with real solutions in mind that don’t involve drugs and other services that many don’t have the time or money to participate in. We have to make our loved ones especially feel heard and respected regardless of what they reveal about themselves. We have to do our very best to love and support those who need it.
Empathy is Key
There is a reason why people experiencing these things either put on a face or isolate themselves. They don’t think they will be accepted or heard without being judged for it! Sure, some people go to social media and talk about these things for attention, but that is no excuse. This issue is too serious to pass something off as another kid or adult looking for attention online. We have to be more compassionate, and empathetic. At the end of the day, I feel that simply showing someone that they aren’t alone, and most importantly that they’re allowed to be who they are–that they’re allowed to be unapologetic about experiencing mental illness–is the greatest gift that we can share with someone who is struggling with it.
From a person who experienced the dark depths of depression, suicidal thoughts, self hatred, and eventually the attempts on my own life–showing that you care means more than you could ever know for that person. It is a blessing that I’m alive today, but I’m here by blessing alone. There was no one there to save me, and yet here I stand; now with the purpose of expressing the importance of showing someone that they are worthy to experience the beauty in their lives.
Silence is No Longer An Option
Most people who kill themselves don’t 100% want to, but they just feel so overwhelmingly powerless that it seems like the only logical next step. It is only those who feel that they have no support and who believe that no one understands them that succumb to their pain. It isn’t their fault, and although it is their burden; no one should feel that their burden is so heavy that the only solution is to take their own lives.
Silence is no longer an option. It shouldn’t be a normality that depression, anxiety, and the other commonly experienced variations of mental illness are so easily overlooked or drowned in prescription drugs until they escalate to a point where one evening you walk into their bedroom and see a loved one overdosing on the pills that were supposed to save them. That isn’t an answer.
Just like every other method currently used, it merely suppresses the problem, which only allows for it to grow under a falsified guise of “solution”. It shouldn’t be a normality that everyone gets quiet or uncomfortable as soon as someone brings these things up. Be loud. Be the light. Be unapologetic about your experience with mental illness. The only way to ever tackle an issue is to take that sh*t head on.
It’s time that we stand up for those who feel that they have no voice, and it damn sure is time to stop apologizing for bringing attention to one of the most relentless killers of youth and adults alike since the dawn of our civilization.
I get it, it’s uncomfortable. But this isn’t about you. This isn’t about me. This is about the cloud of darkness that hangs over many of our heads, and that claims far too many of our peoples’ lives. It’s time for us to wake up and stand as one against mental illness. Not because it is a bad thing, but because neglecting the truth is much worse.