There is an epidemic in America…well, the world really. It affects 1 in 10 Americas and only 80% of those with symptoms receive help*. An estimated 121 million people around the world are dealing with it*. It is everywhere, and odds are you know more than one person who has had it or who is going through it currently.
The numbers aren’t what gets to me though…it is the stigma that goes along with it. We don’t know our friends and family are dealing with it because we, as a society, have made it shameful to admit we have it.
Depression has become an ugly word.
We tend to look down on people who admit to us they have or are dealing with depression. Sure, we may cry with them, hold their hand, or try to understand, but at the same time we think to ourselves, “I am so glad I will never have to deal with this. I am too strong to let myself get so down about life.”
We try to be consoling and encouraging by offering advice on something we know absolutely zero about. We say things like, “Well, if God brought you to it, He’ll get you through it,” or “You just need to pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” or “I heard if you change your diet and start exercising it will help.” I can’t imagine any of our cliche advice has helped anybody…with anything.
Society has made those with depression feel as though they must keep it hidden, that they must put on a good “face”, pretending everything is a-okay. You know that moment when someone admits something kinda awkward to you and you don’t know what to say or do or how to act? We’ve made it so that admitting to depression creates that kind of moment, and heaven forbid we feel awkward for a moment in order that someone else may begin to have a safe place and not feel awkward for a lifetime.
Yes, there is a stigma that goes with depression. I know because I have contributed in my own little world to putting it there. I have said cliche things. I have been judgmental while friends confided in me.
I did all those things until my own downward spiral started….
*Statistics taken from http://www.healthline.com