I was reading an article on Cracked this afternoon which mentioned suicide. This can bring out some crazy things in the comments section, but it was surprisingly mostly uplifting. However, there were a few comments that made me a touch unhappy.
“A person has to WANT to be happy: not just SAY they want to be happy. They have to want to make the EFFORT to be happy.
I was chronically depressed for more than 25 years before I started to wake up and realize just how WEAK I was. I just realized that I needed to be strong and be positive because other people just couldn’t carry my weak, helpless, useless, complaining lump anymore”
Honestly, how many depressed people want to be depressed. “Oh, I quite like being miserable and empty, I think I’ll just hang out in the depths of depression for a while. Maybe a lifetime.” Maybe there are people out there that actually think like this, or who start feeling better but pretend they don’t because they like how people treat them when they’re depressed. But for everyone else, and I would guess that would be a majority of depressed people, they really want to get better, because depression is awful.
Then, we have the wonderful assertion that being depressed is weak. That the solution to being “weak, helpless, useless, complaining” is to just be strong and positive. This feels like a bit of positivity woo – the idea that positive thinking is this magical thing that solves all sorts of problems. Positive people are much less likely to be depressed, it’s true – because depression causes negative feelings and robs you of the ability to be positive. The ‘just be strong and think positive’ is very hurtful to people who are depressed, because it sounds like ‘it’s easy to do, and why aren’t you doing it damn it? You’re just so weak and useless. You should be ashamed.’
“If she really wanted to die she would have, its wah wah me me me. People like this exist all over and its all a big ME ME ME show. Im not dumping on people who need help, Im dumping on people who are dark soul sucking clouds who refuse to seek help, just content to sit in misery because secretly they get a perverse enjoyment out of it.”
“If she really wanted to die she would have.” Ouch. Not all suicide attempts are successful, and even those who are not really trying are in need of serious help. But just writing off her pain, the things that took her to a place where she didn’t want to live any more, as not real because she didn’t actually die is pretty cruel.
And then we have these people who actually enjoy how they’re treated while depressed that they fake it. “These dark, soul-sucking clouds” might be people with various personality disorders, or they might not really exist in any real quantities. But we need someone to demonise, just like we need the welfare queen in discussions about social welfare.
The big thing that both these comments cover the idea that depression is malingering. The second comment tries to say that it’s not aimed at the people that are actually ill, but I struggle to believe that fakers are all that common, and what he’s actually attacking most are people with fairly serious mental health issues that need much more support than a good well-treated depression.
Mental illness is actually a real illness. It’s not laziness. It’s not weakness. It’s not fake. It is a collection of many illnesses, all of which are potentially fatal. The attitude of writing off mental illness is outdated, cruel, and simply wrong.