This is a four-part series written by senior and contributing author William Brien. The following article discusses depression and suicide.
“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely”
— Aldous Huxley
MYTH 1: Depression isn’t something you should talk about publicly. Acknowledging it just makes things worse.
Parents and friends may see hints of depression, but rather than addressing it and putting ideas of self-harm into the victim’s head, they try to let things run their course. No one wants to bear the responsibility of failing to save someone’s life, or of endangering them in the first place. However, this misconception assumes that self-harm isn’t already on someone’s mind and that, left alone, depressive attitudes will fade away. More often than not, victims hide their thoughts out of fear of being ostracized by those who fear their illness. Their insecurity and isolation are exacerbated, and they are confined to silent suffering when all they really want is for someone to listen to them. When you give that to them, showing them compassion by providing an open ear without judgement, you are not making their problems any worse. You are giving them an outlet to openly deal with pain rather than leaving them to splinter into pieces bearing it by themselves. You may not know how to “solve” depression for them (and you shouldn’t be expected to), but just by listening, you make victims feel infinitely less alone.
MYTH 2: Depression is just oversensitivity, irrationality, and negativity.
Depression is often chalked up to a few common adjectives that can supposedly be cast aside by strong-minded people. However, depression can be experienced in a number of ways. Some forms of it being characterized by dramatic outbursts and rash decisions, while others bring about hopeless brooding and emotional numbness. All of these things are not causes of depression, but symptoms. Irrationality may be to depression as a runny nose is to a cold. It would be unreasonable to tell a person with a mosquito bite that the cause of that bite is the itching that came from it. Granted, those analogies are not perfect, and certain symptoms of depression can have effects that actually exacerbate the illness. However, that doesn’t mean it originates from them.
MYTH 3: Depression all in your head. You just need to snap out of it.
Like any other illness, depression is not something you can simply “snap out” of. It isn’t as if its a daydream that you can leave behind without a second thought. It’s a devastating condition that requires months, years, or even a lifetime of treatment just to become manageable. Its causes are more complex than just “negative thinking,” tangled in a web of genetics, biochemical imbalances, and social conditions (just to name a few of the factors scientists currently know about). Depression is not a choice. Being depressed is not a matter of strength or weakness, and it’s not just a way you choose to look at the world either. It’s an oppressive force that drains the life from you. There’s no dancing around it. It takes work to get better.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741.