One of the most popular, irritating myths about depression is that it means that someone who is clinically depressed is sad all the time. I mean, by that theory that means that happy people can’t experience depression, right? It is stereotypes like this that stigmatise the condition and puts a huge conflicting pressure upon my shoulders.
On one hand, I feel like I need to participate in some sort of relentless depressive charade, just to be taken seriously. I feel like I need to turn my world into an exhausting darkness and stop functioning in time with the rest of the world for people to recognise that I am depressed. That I should be so wrapped up in performing my sadness, just to prove I am ill enough to be worthy of help.
Once upon a time when I had a breakdown before I started medication, I fit that stereotype. I hid away with my demons in the safe haven of my bed, wishing I would just disappear. I barely ate, and if I wasn’t blankly staring at my bleak wall I was either asleep or crying, every single day. That is when people realised something was wrong.
Now, since I started medication just after that dark time, those bad days happen randomly, rather than on a continuous cycle. Even when I am experiencing happiness, it’s always a struggle that I’ve become expert at hiding. Some days are good, some days are bad. To the people that believe the stigma which depicts what a truly depressed person should look like, in their eyes I’m cured.
Now, on the other hand, there is a persistent pressure to perform the opposite. I’m caught in a trap where if I don’t portray my depression, I’m not really depressed, but if I express sadness, I am boring and should stop feeling sorry for myself.
Depression can be your dictator, but you can disobey it sometimes. It is not an all or nothing deal. If I crack a joke, that doesn’t mean I’m faking my illness for attention, which I have been accused of in the past.
Let’s take Robin Williams for example. He was a brilliant actor and comedian that didn’t deserve to go through a pain that the only way to end it was to die.
I believe it’s true when people say comedians are the ones who hide their depression best. What is a more effective way to disguise the fact that you’re feeling hopelessly empty and exhaustingly sad than to crack jokes? Which is why people find it so shocking to hear that someone so insanely funny, always smiling and loved by the world could do something like kill themselves.
In such a modern world, it’s heart-breaking that ignorance still overpowers knowledge. No one will ever know what Robin Williams was thinking when he took the final step in his pain, but he definitely did not see himself in the same light the rest of the word did. It’s sad that society still does not understand the backward reality that the ‘happiest’ people can be the saddest, but I am glad it is a subject people are not so scared to talk about anymore.