Depression is a mental illness. While you might not have it, you probably know someone who does. Approximately 16.1 million people in the US struggle with depression. There's a load of symptoms and everyone experiences a variety of different ones. Some of the most common ones include feeling hopeless, changes in appetite/weight, and an overall loss of pleasure in life.
Over the years since my diagnosis, I have had people tell me I'm "lazy" and that I need to "just do it," whatever that task may be. To say something like this to someone with depression is contributing to the nauseating world of stigma. Let me tell you firsthand, stigma SUCKS. According to Psychology Today, it could even be worsening the mental health of those who struggle with depression.
One of the symptoms I face personally is fatigue. I'm constantly tired and that could be due to the fact that I am on medications, or perhaps it's the fact that well, depression is a battle and my body is working around the clock to fight it.
I begin every day by making the choice to get out of bed. That isn't an easy one to make either. I'm pretty much exhausted every hour of the day, so getting up for that 8:30 class is something I constantly dread.
I'm also a full-time college student. Mentally ill or not, I think we can all agree that college is a lot of work. Simply walking around campus during finals week is enough to tell you that, yes we are working our butts off for that degree.
Throughout the day, I also have to deal with the burden of anxiety. My brain is constantly running and thinking about the things people say, and how they say it. Don't even get me started on overthinking my own words and actions.
So understand this, I'm not lazy. I'm working hard, just like my peers. Emotionally, I'm working even harder. If you don't know what it feels like, imagine running a mile while having invisible weights chained to your ankles. How frustrating would it be if the people watching you run were constantly making fun of how slow you were going and claiming that you "weren't trying hard enough." It's as if they have zero idea about how hard you're working.
In no way am I looking for sympathy, however, I am looking for understanding. I want my successes to be acknowledged and I want to feel supported, no matter how little or big my accomplishment is.
So let's be a little kinder and a little bit more understanding. Look for the best in people and always be educating ourselves on topics that are truly important (mental health!)
Yes, I have depression. Yes, I am a fighter. But in no way, am I lazy.