"Depression isn't real."
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Health and Wellness

"Depression isn't real."

An article written by a heartbroken student who has lost a member of her community.

"Depression isn't real."
"Depression isn't real."

I had a friend say this to me earlier in the week during a casual conversation where I had mentioned the issue of depression. Now if you're anything like me, that statement, "depression isn't real," hit you like a punch in the stomach. Because similarly, if you're anything like me, either you or someone close to you has suffered from some degree of depression at one point in their life.

I had heard of people having that opinion about mental illness, but I had never actually believed it was real. So naturally, being completely dumbfounded, I had to ask. I needed clarity into something that I had no ability to understand.

I asked, "Wait, so can you explain your stand on depression or mental illness in general?"

The reply I got? "I think in most cases it doesn't exist... I don't consider it a disease... I think they're total bulls--t."

I'm a hothead and well aware of it, but I've been working on it. So I paused for a second and instead of being offended and trying to bite his head off, I asked him why. He explained to me that, to him, it seemed like it just happens to people who are in a negative environment and not well enough equipped to deal with it. It's not a disease that needs treatment, but something that someone should be able to handle on their own. To be perfectly fair, from an outside view, his reasoning makes sense and there are more arguments that help support his idea.

Media hasn't helped people to understand the extent of depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses. Often times online, it comes off trendy to be sad or to hurt yourself or to want to die. Mental illness has been romanticized in the worst kind of way. This has caused an aversion to believing someone actually is suffering from one of these diseases. But illness should not be a trend, sobbing in a bathtub should not be beautiful and suicide should not be fantastical. There is nothing magical about the pain, hurt, and numbness one feels when diagnosed with a mental disorder.

But why shouldn't someone just be able to shake off the sad, smile and get on with their life? If you've been on the receiving end of depression, you already know the answer to this question, and the truth is that it's just not that simple. After this conversation, I reached out to two close friends, both of whom had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety at one point in their lives, in order to get an insight on the reality of depression.

This is each of their experiences of the affects of depression on every day life. Names are excluded for privacy.

"On bad days, I can barely make it out of bed. I am fighting over the control of my own mind and not giving power to the demons inside." -A

"It's crippling. To the point where you can't get out of bed. It makes you physically incapable. And then you start to think it's your fault but it isn't, it's a disease. But people don't see it like that." -J

For them, depression is not something you can just ignore or choose to be stronger than. Mental illness is not a joke. Depression is not "bulls--t." It's a disease, caused by a chemical imbalance in the body.

"I don’t choose to have panic attacks. I don’t choose to cancel plans because I have heart palpitations. I cannot “stop over analyzing” or “just calm down.” It’s not just my mental state. It's a chemical imbalance in my brain." -A

"People don't view it as a real disease when it is. It's a chemical imbalance that makes it nearly impossible to do the simplest things. You wouldn't expect someone who got in a car accident and lost their legs to just get up and walk without a prosthetist. Depression is the same way." -J

These diseases aren't something that can be fixed by rubbing some dirt on it, or a hardy pat on the back. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, "25 million Americans suffer from depression each year". However, "over 80 percent of the people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving specific treatment for their depression." And if that isn't enough to convey the severity of this very real epidemic, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also revealed that "over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression." These illnesses are real and they are prevalent, which I experienced first hand only days ago.

Later that night after I had the debate about the existence of mental illness and depression, there was an email sent only to a small amount of the students at my own college, the University of California, San Diego. This email was sent to the student's whose buildings were next to that of a student who had taken his own life that morning, Friday, Apr. 8, 2016. Someone had decided that the pain of the life her or she was living was more than one was able to handle and that going into a place of uncertainty, and perhaps nothingness, was better than another second on this planet where they felt so much hurt. My heart is broken for this person and their loved ones.

The university has yet to notify the student population or even address the tragedy that has happened in our own community. I learned about this horrific incident, which happened the day before Triton Day, the day when UCSD invites all prospective students to tour the campus through social media and have only confirmed it through receiving the email forwarded from a fellow student. For a school that claims to be so progressive and forward, not addressing the reality of what has happened and sweeping it under the rug because of the negative light it would put on the school with college acceptances coming out is a crime to the students who attend UCSD.

So, do not tell me mental illness is not real. Do not hide the tragedy that is caused by these diseases. Please understand that these are diseases and denying their existence is ultimately going to lead to tragedies like the suicide that happened here just a few days ago.

Do not deny the reality of someone's situation just because it is not the reality of your own. You might just save someone's life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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