I make it a point that depression and mental illness in general should not be kept a secret. Doing so only creates more ignorance and perpetuates false information. It is something that is unique to each person who has it, and no two people suffer in the exact same way. No two people cope in the exact same way either, but one of my mechanisms has always been writing, so I hope you enjoy and maybe learn a thing or two.
1. "It'll be okay."
Yes, in theory, things will be okay. The sun always rises, tomorrow is another day, and there's plenty of fish in the sea. All of these things culminate into one shoulder shrug of a normal person who doesn't care to get to know how you really feel or how your brain works. Granted, some people have never felt depression personally and it is hard to explain and even harder for someone who has never experienced it to know how to react or what to say. The best thing is to just be there. Listen. Be quiet. Watch TV. Give them a blanket. Above all, be patient.
2. "Stop worrying."
I never thought my "worrying" was a real problem until I entered middle school. I will worry about any conceivable thing you can think of and about a million others you can't. I will think of that one thing I did in 3rd grade and worry about it. I will wake up in the middle of the night worrying about being late for a job I no longer have. These things I cannot control. My mind is a hamster on a wheel and he's always taking shots of Redbull so he barely ever slows down. If I could just stop worrying, I fucking would. Believe me.
3. "I thought you were on medication now."
This one is something I've been hearing (or it's been implied) more recently. Here's the thing: medication helps regulate the symptoms of my depression and anxiety, but it isn't like waving a magic wand and I'm suddenly happy every waking moment. I have sad days, days where I'm depressed, things trigger my anxiety for no reason, etc. Think of it as taking something for pain. It helps your symptoms, but you still inevitably feel it.
4. "I'm glad I don't need pills to function."
Well good for fucking you! You are an amazing person and so much better than me because of how your brain chemistry works. I bow down to the superior specimen of a human before me.
Honestly, if you don't have depression or if you have the type where you only need counseling, a walk in the woods, or more exercise or a routine, that's great. Taking medication sucks. I will be the very first to admit it. You have awful side effects (to name a few: constipation, diarrhea, constipated diarrhea, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, decreased sex drive or inability to orgasm--that one's fun--more anxiety, increased heart rate, and the list goes on), it takes forever to find the right pill (or combination of pills) that work for you, and it's a subtle reminder that you are different than everyone else who can function normally without medical intervention.
This mindset is the sole reason I waited and suffered for so long without asking for help. Once I found the right one, it was like a film was taken off of my eyes and I could see and feel things like I never had. My brain isn't worse than yours, it just works differently.
5. "There are people who have it way worse than you."
Some of my other favorites include: "There are starving people in China", "There are wars all over the world", and "At least you have a roof over your head". Well, first of all, thanks. You just added to the list of things I can worry about while staring at the ceiling late at night (because of course I have insomnia from my fucking pills that you are so above taking). Secondly, I KNOW THIS. We all know this. People think that pain is a contest. Someone is always hurting more than you and so your pain is somehow less in comparison. But pain is something every human being experiences and it is always seen as negative. People put value on happiness and joy because it makes us feel good, and less on what makes us feel bad. However, you need both to live in this world and truly appreciate every little thing. Someone else's pain does not make mine less valid.
6. "You're pretty/young/have a good job, etc. Why would you be depressed?"
A doctor actually said this to my sister when she inquired about medication. A DOCTOR. That's how far this hypocrisy goes. Anyway, no. No, you cannot say that. What the fuck does any of this have to do with my brain and how I feel? Being pretty doesn't help me stop worrying. Being young doesn't help me think any less about death. Having a good job doesn't make the black cloud following me disappear. Some people honestly believe that you have control over how you feel when you have clinical depression. The simple fact is that, while some things can help, you cannot control when these feelings overtake you. Depression is a passenger in your body and a lot of times you don't get to decide when it takes the wheel.
7. "I was depressed one time in high school when my boyfriend dumped me."
Okay, I see what you're trying to do here: relate to me so I don't feel so alone or something along those lines. While these things could have affected you in a negative way, they most likely were not depression. Sadness is only one tiny part of depression and so many people don't know that. Other things include: anxiety, dissociation, OCD, shaking, hives, aches and pains, headaches, stomach aches, intestinal problems, ulcers, sleeplessness, sleeping too much, helplessness, fear, the crushing weight of existence, looking up at the sky and hating how small you feel and how you aren't even capable of putting on matching socks, buying a house plant because you want to be surrounded by life and then killing it because you can barely remember to shower so why would you religiously water something oh my god no living thing can depend on you, can it?
And the list goes on.
So nope, breaking up with your high school boyfriend of a few months like, 15 years ago is not the same at all.
8. "You just need to get out of the house."
Admittedly, sometimes this can help. Personally, when I'm depressed I want to cocoon myself in my bed and not move. However, sometimes if you force yourself to go for a walk or somewhere there are people, you can distract yourself for a while. It doesn't really make me feel better because I hate people and I don't want to do anything when I'm in the middle of a deep dark hole and outside is where the people are. People always disappoint you when life is pointless so why remind yourself?
9. "You just need to get more sun. I go to the beach every day in the summer and I'm always happy."
I actually do have a pretty bad Vitamin D deficentcy, but it isn't really tied to my depression. For some people, maybe that's the case and it's that simple. For me, if I went to the beach every day in the summer I would:
A: hate people even more because we're a tourist town and all the shoobies drive me nuts.
B: Get burnt within an hour despite how much SPF 150 I slather all over myself.
C: Worry the entire time I'm outside that A and/or B are going to inevitably happen.
10. "A lot of people care about you and you're being selfish thinking you're all alone and sad."
Well thank you for clearing that up for me! I had no fucking clue that the stress and turmoil I put my loved ones through by simply being alive affected them at all! Thanks for bringing that to light and making me aware of it. Otherwise, I would have just continued being "selfish" the rest of my life.
Fuck off. For real.
I am so painfully aware of the people who care about me that it hurts. It hurts even more than if I was completely alone. When I'm depressed and nothing can make me feel better, the guilt that you feel at not being able to allow your loved ones to help you is worse than the depression itself. We honestly don't need someone to remind us of this. We think about it constantly and hate ourselves enough. But thanks, dick.
11. "Are you off your meds?"
Mood swings are another common occurrence with mental disorders. I have spent years working on it and can usually stop them before I lash out on anyone, but of course I have my days. If someone asks this question genuinely, if they are truly concerned, they will frame it in a better way and ask when you're not in the throes of a mood swing. Most of the time, the person doesn't really care about anything other than the fact that your pesky passenger is ruining their relaxing Sunday and they want you to stop so this is the logical conclusion. You angry. You need pill.
No. I am not off my meds. If I was, trust me, you wouldn't need to ask. You would know.
12. "Stop being so negative."
Negativity is just as important as positivity. People say this to me a lot because they mistake my honesty for negative thoughts. If I hate something, I'm going to let you know. Depression, as I've said, affects people in different ways. One way it has affected me is that I have been on both sides--happy and depressed. Hopeless and full of joy. It gives you a unique perspective and as a result, I've realized that just going along with things and acting like they don't bother you is a crock of shit. You're only hurting yourself in believing that the world should only be positive all the time. That isn't how things work.
13. "You went out with your friends last night and had fun. I thought you were depressed."
Yes. People who are depressed, can, in fact, be happy. We can pretend to be happy too. But we can also genuinely feel joy when we're around our people or doing things we enjoy. How about instead of criticizing us for feeling what is most often rare in our lives, you be happy FOR us. Just because I don't fit into your "box of sadness" does not mean I am faking or dramatizing how I feel. Just because I have a night of fun does not mean my illness is gone.
So kindly go suck an egg.
14. "It's all in your head."
Well you don't fucking say!
The whole point is that it's in your head, asshole. People can't see what you're struggling with, how you want to jump out of your skin, etc. However, things in your head can also affect your body. I get aches and pains, migraines, intestinal issues, and so forth. Depression, yes, is a mental disorder, but just brushing it off like this is harmful in more way than one.
15."Happiness is a choice."
This is by far the thing that I most often hear and probably the thing I hate to hear most. Sure, in theory, you can always "choose to be happy" (I will cut you if you say that to me, btw), but just because you choose something doesn't mean you get it. When you have depression, you can't control your happiness any more than you can control when you have to go the bathroom: to an extent you can hold it in, but at some point, you gotta go or you're going to make a mess of yourself.