"You're a very pretty girl. Why are you depressed? You shouldn't be."
Sitting in the uncomfortable, pleather chair in my new doctor's office, I was rather taken back by the nurse's blunt question. How was I to explain to her that the collected woman I sometimes portray on the outside does nothing to reflect the chaos I feel on the inside?
I had gone into the doctor's office that day for a general check-up, feeling that I should set up new primary care whenever I move to a new state. Sometimes during these visits I change prescriptions and sometimes it's just good to talk to a professional to reevaluate where you are. After being diagnosed with depression in the midst of my sophomore year of college, I proceeded to get on antidepressants. In return, I am constantly surprised at how people respond to this confession of myself.
"Wow, I never would have known."
"But you don't look depressed."
"You have nothing to be depressed about."
To combat these responses, I would like to elaborate on my behalf.
1. The reason you wouldn't have guessed that I am dealing with depression is because the illusion of happiness that I exude is too elaborate. Socially speaking, the public as a whole correlates beauty with happiness. We relate white teeth, slim bodies and perfect skin with joy and contentedness. Well let me tell you, no matter how much I whiten my teeth, no matter how many miles I run or how much makeup I wear, the girl on the inside will always be the same. A little broken, and frankly kinda a mess. It's when no one is looking that you become the truest form of yourself, sadness and all.
2. The reason I don't look depressed is because I take antidepressants. It always cracks me up when people tell me that I don't need to take these medications. It's almost amusing explaining that the reason I'm at the mental state that I am now is because of said medications. While society is finally becoming more understanding about mental health, depression and the treatment of it can still be considered a taboo. No one ever said that it's good to rely on drugs, but no one can deny that we all need a little extra help sometimes. Some more than others.
3. Let me just start with saying this: The media idolizes beautiful people. And while it may seem like they have it all, at the the end of the day they're just normal people. They are still dealing with the same demons we are. Insecurities. Relationship problems. Mental and physical health problems. We are a society built upon looks and preconceived perceptions. And although we were always warned against it as a child, we still judge a book by its cover. We envy the pretty girl on Instagram who is still dealing with an eating disorder. We obsess over the handsome celebrity who feels utterly lonely most of the time. No matter how put together they may look, everyone is fighting a battle very much oblivious to us.
Depression is an illness. It is not something that can simply be turned on and off like the switch of a light. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. As you do not tell someone with the flu that they shouldn't feel sick, it is ill-advised to tell someone with depression that they shouldn't feel sad.
So thank you, nurse, for telling me I'm pretty. But that's not all I am.