We've made it to the year 2018. Heaps of information pertaining to mental illness is at our fingertips. All you need to do is Google the term "depression" and pages of articles outlining causes, symptoms and possible solutions will appear.
Why, then, are we so reluctant to talk about this disease?
If you've ever suffered from depression, or if you've known someone who has, you've probably noticed that the subject tends to make others uncomfortable.
If the topic does arise, it's not uncommon for people to abruptly change the subject or zone out of the conversation.
Considering our society shuns any sort of negativity nowadays, it's easy to see how avoidance can become magnified when something as serious as depression is brought into the equation.
Even when people do acknowledge depression's presence, it's done in hushed whispers. If someone seeks long-term treatment or engages in acts of self-harm, it's treated as something shameful.
It's spoken like a secret, some awful kernel of information that must be buried at all costs.
Then, we have the nerve to wonder why more people don't ask for help.
If we ignore it, it'll go away. That seems to be the thought process here, though silencing those with depression often makes things worse.
With over 300 million people battling depression worldwide, we can no longer afford to react like this. It's time to face the facts: The only way to way to solve a problem is to face it head-on.
And we can only do that by acknowledging it.
Part of the problem is that we, as a society, refuse to treat mental illness as we would a physical ailment.
Would we be secretive when telling someone we've contracted the flu? Would we make someone feel bad for having a stomach virus?
Of course not.
We proclaim physical illness without a second thought, and we're rarely judged for it. Mental illness, on the other hand, comes with stigmas. And those stigmas keep people quiet.
So how can we break the silence?
Spreading awareness is of major importance in the effort to destroy the stigma surrounding depression. But, to truly be successful, we also need to practice that awareness in our own lives.
It helps no one to nod in agreement while reading articles like this while perpetuating the stigma through our own avoidance of difficult topics. We need to start talking about our own struggles, and we need to be willing to hear about others' battles with depression.
I'm not saying that we should act as anyone's therapist. There are professionals out there for that.
What I am saying is that we need to be willing to have difficult conversations with one another.
And we need to have these discussions audibly.
The louder we are about depression, the more likely others will join in with their experiences. And the more normal it becomes to open up about these things, the more likely it is that those suffering will openly seek help.
This is the only way to beat the stigma. It starts with you.