I have depression.
It's a statement that no one really wants to make, but that really does need talked about in the open. In the past few months, three different star NHL players have died, most recently a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, of apparent suicide, who suffered from depression. These deaths have put mental illness in the forefront of the sports reports, but for how long? Will the discussion stop when the memories fade? Or when the next big story breaks? It's a discussion that should continue.
The mental illness stigma, especially for depression, has long since been that depression is a statement of weakness. However, depression is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that your brain, your body, isn't functioning quite right. It can have different levels. All of us suffer from mild depression at some point or another, just by feeling down. Most people are past it within a few days. But others, it takes longer. They can't do it by themselves and they need support. Some need medication and counselling. Others need to be hospitalized for varying lengths of time. But what people with depression need the most is support and understanding.
Telling people "to snap out of it" or "get over it" is less than helpful. Instead, it can often time make things worse. It can leave the person feeling like a failure and cause the depression to become worse. Sometimes, it's better to say nothing at all. Sometimes it's better to just be there.
Having depression isn't a death sentence, though it can be without treatment. Seeking out treatment isn't a sign of weakness, but a sign of acknowledgement that depression, like many other things, can't be treated by ignoring or pretending it will go away. Choosing to take medication is not a sign of failure. It's a sign that you really want to feel better, that you're willing to do what is necessary to correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that is making you feel that way. And yes, clinical depression is a sign of a chemical imbalance in the brain.
People with depression don't need to be ignored. Depression needs to be discussed. Depression is real. Depression effects every aspect of a person's life. Depression effects every aspect of their family's lives.
I am the wife of someone who has suffered from severe depression and watched how it effected my husband, my child and myself.
I am the daughter of someone who has suffered from severe depression and watched how it effected my mother, my brothers and myself.
Effective treatmore for depression - and discussing it, not ignoring it - gives life back to the person suffering from depression and their families.
And finally, I'm not ashamed to say it. I have depression. I treat it, I attempt to correct stereotypes, and I work to make sure it doesn't overtake my life, which has happened in the past. But for the record...
I have depression.