If you’ve ever truly lived with depression, you may also feel a little twinge of annoyance when a friend, colleague or acquaintance throws out an “I’m so depressed” comment over not getting concert tickets, missing a weekend party or other inconsequential thing. For someone living with depression every day, hearing it wrapped up in a neat little bow and pared down to something so silly is insulting. And it also makes depression a lot harder to talk about.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for open conversation.
If there had been more open conversation when I was in grade 9 and was self-harming, maybe I could have received the help I needed at 15, instead of suffering with feelings of unease, anxiety and worthlessness until I was 24. I lost nine years of happiness because I was told to “let it go”, “get over it” and that “everyone feels down”. I can’t get them back. And I don’t want another person to lose a single day feeling alone.
I want us to talk about depression. I want to talk about addiction. I want to talk about anxiety, and Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar disorder. I want to talk about anorexia nervosa, binge-eating and every other mental illness you can think of. But I don’t want to us to make light of these diseases. And they are diseases.
I don’t want to hear snide remarks about a thin woman being “totally anorexic”. And in society, it’s there: both the comment, and the pressure to laugh it off. But it’s not funny. Did you know that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness? HILARIOUS, right?
Oh, and by the way… body dysmorphia and disordered eating are just two things that I live with every day. So your joke? It’s not funny to me.
Let’s not downplay the importance, severity and struggle that is mental illness. Let’s not be uneducated. Let’s not be ignorant. Let’s not be closed off.