One of my dear friends, who I’ve known for a long time, recently told me that he was finally going to try to talk to someone about getting medication for depression. His doctor thought he may have disthymia (persistent, mild depression) – which is what I have – and thought that medication may help. Now, I’ve been telling this friend for YEARS (like, 10 years) that he should look into such things, but he only now was ready.
This is a difficult balancing act to deal with, because on one hand, someone has to be ready and willing to get help, and getting people to admit when something is actually PHYSICALLY wrong can be torturous, much more so if the issue is mental. If someone isn’t ready to get help, pushing them to it can cause them to push back and be even more stubborn. As an innately and adamantly contrary person, I understand that. But, when you see someone struggling and are sure that getting medication/treatment will help them, not pushing it can be almost impossible.
I think I didn’t push enough in the case of this friend, for fear of upsetting him. I have an idea that if I’d been more adamant, despite initial pushback, he may have looked into it earlier. I don’t know that for sure, though, so maybe I would have soured him on the idea entirely, and he wouldn’t be getting the help now.
This is why we need to change the way depression is discussed in our society. There’s still an overwhelming sense that it is a personal failing; that if you were just grateful for what you had, if you just focused on the good, if you just exercised more, if you ate better, if you thought your way better, you’d feel better. This is not helpful, nor accurate. Depression is an actual physical thing. It is chemical, and it effects the brain. Thinking yourself happy is no more effective for depression than it is for Multiple Sclerosis.
Depression lies. So not only is society telling people with depression that they should be better, but their own depression is telling them the same. “If you were smarter/prettier/stronger, you’d be fine. It’s all your fault. You suck at life.”
Until we alter the societal perception that positive thinking can make depression go away, we’re fighting a losing battle. Depression is great at telling people that. Let’s start to tell them that connection and treatment are the way to go. That they don’t have to do it alone. That we don’t. None of us.
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