What Not to Say to Someone Who Is Suffering
Fighting the stigma against mental health should play an important role in today’s society. Depression, just like any other mental illness, is a real and incredibly difficult part of people’s lives that cannot go untreated or unheard.
Statistics show that millions of people worldwide are currently suffering from some form of depression regardless of gender, age or cultural background. So, why are people simply being told to “pull yourself together” or “snap out of it” instead of being recognized that they are suffering? You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to simply get back on their feet and carry on walking. So why do some people treat depression as a trivial thing?
In a previous article, I wrote about my experiences with opening up about my depression and telling the people around me about my diagnosis. I mentioned that there were some people who reacted negatively towards this. I had a strong fear that I would not be taken seriously and in some cases I wasn’t. I was told to “just cheer up” and get on with my life. I was also told that I was “attention seeking”, to stop “faking it” and “it’s not that hard”. Even though this hurt and affected me in a negative way, it also motivated me to raise awareness about depression and mental health and to make people see that depression is real and even though it is not a pain you can physically see it causes real problems and pain to those who suffer from it. However, for other people with depression comments and attitudes like the ones above can affect their recovery and movement towards a happier and healthier future. Some people will become more reclusive and avoid telling their problems to anyone with the idea that they will not be taken seriously. Some will lose trust and hope in those around them and their depression can lead to a downward spiral of hopelessness. Others will believe the comments made at them and that they don’t really have a problem. These are the wrong ways to cope with depression and for help and support to become more available to everybody suffering, awareness should be a main point of focus to every society.
It is important for everyone to acknowledge that this isn’t “just a phase” that you can get over. Despite negative comments and stigma from other people, depression is a genuine health condition and if you know someone who has depression you should make yourself more aware of what they go through on a daily basis. Even though those who do not have depression may not understand how it feels to have it and cannot experience the struggles and pain of those that are, they can still make themselves more aware of it and what it is like for those who do. If a fully trained and qualified doctor can diagnose and seek treatment for someone who has depression, why can’t people accept and support those with it?