If only you knew how a person with depression feels, then maybe the stigma of “mental illness” wouldn’t taunt him/her like a bully passing by in a middle school hallway. So much media attention is placed upon diseases like diabetes, cancer, HIV, arthritis, or alcohol and drug dependency, but mental illnesses are treated unjustly because they are much more complex than other diseases. Yet, survivors of other diseases have entire communities behind them, and many hands to hold, while people with depression struggle on all alone.
If only you knew that a person with depression, unipolar or bipolar, can seem to enjoy life, but with the stigma comes shame, so they hide it and push it down until nobody’s looking, or until the pressure gets to be too much. The girl who giggles at your jokes is the same girl who cries herself to sleep every night. The guy who excitedly tells his coworkers how happy he is that he and his wife are expecting their first child thinks about hanging himself before his child is born.
If only you knew that Dr. Phil and Oprah cannot fix what cannot be expressed, understood, or appreciated for its mass, then maybe you would stop trying to force feed answers to unasked questions upon survivors of this disease. There are no rhymes, reasons, or ratings that will ever cure the burden that is carried.
If only you knew that sometimes it’s ok to feel helpless, but it’s never ok to lose hope. You might not be able to understand what your friend or loved one is going through, but you can do everything to lend your light without blaming or shaming, for it is the stigma of mental illness that keeps so many individuals and families from getting the help they need or from accepting that disease comes in many shapes and forms, and depression is just one of the many.
If only you knew that feeling like an outcast because happiness doesn’t exist inside where the rest of the world cannot see, is unacceptable to the person with depression, and that the depression, in and of itself, is a bully like the stigma it carries, then you would know why so many depressed people choose to shut the world out and/or die.
If only you knew that love is not the answer or the cure, but it is the beginning of the healing process. Everyone needs a hand to hold.