Depression remaims baffelingly misunderstood in Ireland today despite how common it is becoming. Having suffered with what became crippling depression myself, I’m passionate about doing what I can to raise awareness around this dangerous mental illness that takes thousands of lives every year. So I decided to choose six common myths around depression and bust the sh*t out of them!
1. Depression is Just The Blues
The biggest and most widely held of the myths, this attitude is a serious problem in Ireland. Depression is not the blues! The blues are a temporary reaction to normal life events. The blues don’t lead to big weight loss or gain. The blues don’t cause people to lose jobs and relationships. The blues don’t contribute to suicide. Depression is a mental illness. The blues is a phase. End of.
2. Suicidal Thoughts Are Attention Seeking
Most people who are having suicidal thoughts aren’t going to be too keen to share that information around. However, this doesn’t mean that if and when a person does make the incredibly brave decision to tell someone that they’re having suicidal thoughts, they should he dismissed as attention seeking. Over the past month I’ve been blown away by the amount of my followers who’ve experienced this during their own struggle with mental health, and I can’t help but wonder if being treated that way when I confessed about my suicidal thoughts to my doctor would’ve made me more likely to follow through with them.
3. Suicide Is Selfish
I have to admit that this is something I used to believe. But it’s bullshit! Only when I started having my own suicidal thoughts did I realise that suicide can actually be the ultimate act of selflessness. For me, I believed wholeheartedly that I was holding back the people I loved, that my own daughter would live a fuller, more successful life without me. To me, not taking my life would’ve been the selfish thing to do. Of course I know how illogical and irrational those beliefs were, but it’s opened my mind to just how warped our thinking can become in depression, and how a seemingly selfish act can actually be a very loving, very selfless one.
4. Antidepressants Are Evil
Another really common misconception, most people still see antidepressants as the enemy. More bullshit! Antidepressants don’t dull your senses or mess with your concentration. They don’t turn you into some sort of brainless zombie. They don’t automatically double or halve your body weight. You won’t immediately take your life the moment you come off them. Like any other medication, it can take time to find the right antidepressant for you, and you may have to deal with some temporary side effects while you find it. But if and when you’re on the right one, you can live a full and happy life with the exact same level of functionality as anyone else and zero additional health risks. Antidepressants are not the enemy. Stigma is.
5. Depression is Just An Excuse For Smelliness
This infuriates me. Yes, many people who are depressed struggle with personal hyigiene. Yes, I once went two weeks without a shower. Yes, I smelled. But I also locked myself into my apartment for those two weeks and hid from the world. I didn’t run around full of the joys of life, waving my steaming pits in the air while everyone around me dry heaved from the stench. If you have a colleague in work, or a friend in school, or a brother at home who smells, but otherwise they seem completely happy and healthy, they’re just smelly. If you think that depressed people are just smelly people, then you’re an asshole.
6. Depression Can be Cured With Exercise
This is possibly the worst of a bad bunch. It’s true that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin, and it’s also true that exercise produces serotonin. But like all mental illness, depression isn’t some black and white scenario with a quick fix. It’s often caused by a chemical imbalance which exercise can correct, sure. But more often than not its roots are infinitely deeper and counselling is needed to teach the patient how to rewire their brain to combat old destructive thought patterns and encourage new, more positive ones. Claiming that exercise is the solution belittles the patients struggles and is incredibly disrespectful. Don’t do it. Ever.
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