DISCLAIMER: Facts should be taken lightly because we know little about this subject and I’m not an expert.

(Trigger warning)

I suffer from depression. I suffer from clinical depression (major depressive disorder) which can be caused by abnormal activity of neural circuits.

Fun fact: Depression can also be inherited but not in the way you think. Researchers are saying you develop a vulnerability to depression but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will become depressed. Example: My grandmother and my mother both suffer(ed) from depression. Both mostly from their environment, however, I, on the other hand, have suffered from depression since I was a young child but my home life wasn’t that bad. I was abused at an extremely young age. At the age of four my stepdad broke my wrist and as an infant my mom’s boyfriend shook me and put me into a grand mal seizure. There’s been many different accounts of abuse and to top it all off my family was very poor and my parent(s) liked to drink very, very heavily. By the time I was five, however, my family life settled down for the most part.

My mom still drank very, very heavily for a few years but after a pretty bad incident involving punching out a kitchen window, she quit drinking. Also, I have a stepfather whom I have known since before I was four and he is a great dad. He has his flaws, but he’s good. I do not have any relationship with my biological father whatsoever so I’ll keep my stepfather. My mom is now halfway through her master’s degree in criminal justice and psychology. My family is still dirt poor but we try and my siblings are terrors but they’ll be okay. What I’m trying to convey is my overall home life is good. I also have some of the most amazing and supportive friends in the whole world so my environment is overall healthy.

So, my doctor says my depression could be a mixed of abnormal activity of my neural circuits and environmental factors. It all gets really confusing especially when you consider the fact that we don’t actually know too much about depression. The main reason I’m typing this article, however, isn’t to discuss the possible reasons depression occurs. It’s to make and break some common stereotypes and misconceptions of depression.

1. Yes, I am suicidal, but not all the time and not all of us are. I have met many people who have depression but have never had any want to commit suicide. It does not, I repeat, does not mean that their depression is necessarily less than others but that they just have never had the thought cross their mind. Everyone’s depression is different and everyone handles it differently.

2. I do not cut myself. Although cutting yourself is the most common form of self-harm it does not have to be associated with depression. I do not cut, many of the people I know with depression do not cut. They do not go hand in hand. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve overheard someone ask someone else or been asked if they/I cut because they/I have depression. One: That is an inappropriate and rude question to ask. Never do that. Two: No. They don’t go hand in hand.

3. I am not emo (well, maybe for My Chemical Romance). Depression does not mean I wear black clothes and dark makeup. I am an average, artsy fartsy, young adult. I dress in sarcastic t-shirts and bright clothing and my makeup is on fleek with no dark eye shadow and black lipstick. However, if someone chooses to dress like this, leave them alone. They are just being their own person and you need to respect that and stop asking stupid questions and making rude remarks.

4. Yes, my depression affects me physically. This question I most get from just curious people. Yes, I feel fatigue and I have loss of appetite or I binge eat, I lose interest in things I love. You think that’s not physical but it basically makes it impossible for me to do any of the things I love doing because I have zero motivation.  Even getting out of bed is hard. It means no going for walks, no creating art, no doing crafts, no going out and taking photos. In high school my depression was so bad because I didn’t know how to handle it and I was on some funky antidepressants that in that time I quit drawing for half a year after being diagnosed. I had zero motivation to do anything (and I was art sterling scholar so creating art was kind of a necessity).

5. If I openly tell you I have depression I am not seeking attention. I am making you aware of things to come. I used to think that if someone tells you they have depression it’s just them wanting attention and that they probably don’t have depression at all. That is so not true. Openly telling new employers, roommates, friends, etc. that you suffer from a mental illness is a way to make them aware of what they’ll need to expect from you. It’s a way of letting them know you have an illness and you are handling it but you’ll have bad days. I treat my depression the same way I treat my hypoglycemia. I make people aware of what I can and can’t do because of my illness and how to help me if the time comes that I need it. Now, I make it sound super easy and simple but it’s not. I’m still learning to handle my depression naturally since I’m off antidepressants and have been for over two years, so I’m not always going to know what to do on a “blue day”. But if you really want to help I’m willing to learn with you on what works and doesn’t to help combat my depression.

Also, side note: If someone is claiming they have mental illness or self-harming for attention than that is still some form of mental problem that needs to be addressed not made fun of. Get that person help.

6. We are people with an illness and deserve to be treated as such.

7. Do not romanticize our illness. Depression is so ugly. You don’t romanticize cancer, diabetes, CF, hypoglycemia, aids, HIV, heart disease, etc. etc. Do not romanticize depression. It is not tragically beautiful. It’s just ugly.

8. And last but certainly not least, if you or someone you know might have depression talk to someone you trust and get help. It’s scary to be diagnosed with depression, I get that. But going undiagnosed is much scarier. If you are diagnosed it’ll open you up to a whole new world of people who will be willing to support you. You will get a handful of people who are unsure of how to help or are just plain out ignorant but they’ll be drowned out by the ocean of people ready to help. And if you have depression and you feel all alone and like nothing is ever going to get better it will. It’ll take time and you’ll need to figure some things out on your own but I am a proud example of how it gets better. Also, just because I don’t take antidepressants does not mean I believe or they are bad. It simply means for my own reasons I decided not to take them. Many antidepressants have been proven to help lessens the effects of depression (especially in adults). Don’t let me deter you from seeking medicine.

Published by Skyler Winder