Lately, on 9gag at least, there are quite a few posts that have to do with depression. I spoke of one earlier, and here I am, talking about another. The good news is that this one is funny, but the thing it’s getting at is not.
I am studying Psychology, and it saddens me to see just how many people still don’t understand that mental problems are real. They exist. They’re not something someone made up, and if you haven’t had one, then it doesn’t mean that no one can have them.
Part of me understands the reason why it’s so hard for people to see mental disorders, or conditions, as real. It’s because you can’t see them. A wound on a leg is visible, the color of a person’s skin changing is also visible. Depression (or any other such problem)…not so much.
Of course, it’s apparent from the person’s behavior that something’s up. Something’s not quite right when your friend decides to sleep the entire day, not wanting to get out of the house. But this can easily be written off as laziness. And guess what? Telling someone who has depression that they’re lazy and that they should just get over it doesn’t do a damn thing to fix what’s going on. In fact, it might even make it worse.
Aside from not being tangible, and for having symptoms that can be confused with something else, there’s also a stigma attached to mental problems. It’s as if the person brought it upon themselves. If you have even the most basic understanding of psychology, then you can surely appreciate how ridiculous this notion is. No one wishes for their brain chemistry to change.
There were other posts on 9gag, comparing mental problems to physical ones. You wouldn’t go to a person who has asthma, and tell them that they brought it upon themselves. Likewise, you wouldn’t go to someone who’s bleeding and tell them to just snap out of it, and they’ll be all right. Or would you?
Of course, people can pretend to have problems, and that’s where it becomes problematic. With most (though not all) physical problems, it’s easy to see when something’s not quite right. But with mental conditions, not so much (though I should say, it’s definitely not impossible).
I still think that the best assumption you can make when someone comes to you and they say they’re depressed (or whatever else) is that they’re right, and try to be there for them, especially if they’re really close to them. For God’s sake, suppress the urge to tell them to just snap out of it.
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