A thought occurred to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth: Have you ever heard of a person going up to a cancer patient and advising them to stand on one leg and picture a rainbow in order to get better? I haven’t. Or how about a person dying from heart disease? ‘Hey, you should try to take more vitamins, you should think about how others may have it worse than you, you should try to be less self absorbed in your pain’. It just hasn’t happened, has it?
I start to believe that depression must be the disease that’s the recipient of the world’s crappiest advice and the world just seems to think it’s okay to hand out any number of frustratingly idiotic ideas for depression sufferers to get better. Imagine a big pile of smelly, disgusting trash – that’s where you can put most of the advice from so-called well-meaning individuals. The whole concept of smelling the roses, going for beautiful walks, getting out there among people to brighten my day.. well.. it just doesn’t hold a lot of promise compared to the promise that this disease might kill me and there is nothing I can do except let it rage through my body and mind. I might as well be tied down with ropes, that’s how little I control this illness. Nobody can imagine the pain of being trapped like that. You can claw and scratch and hope and pray and wish for your situation to be different; it’s just not going to stop until by the grace of God (or whatever power you believe in), the illness suddenly starts to ease up, lets go of it’s deathly grip. That’s when you can begin smelling the roses, going for walks and getting out there.
And once it lets go, you’re not the same. Not only does depression change you physically by killing off brain cells one day at a time. It also changes your personality and you will walk with this dark shadow behind you – or inside you – and the fear that maybe someday it will strike right out of the blue once more and everything falls apart.
Millions of people suffer from depression and we all have to listen to the ones who never had it, who doesn’t have a friggin’ clue, giving us tons of absolutely useless advice. It’s the only disease where this is accepted behavior. If you approached a cancer patient with some ridiculous advice that made absolutely no sense, the bullshit alarms would be ringing all over the place. It seems that when you suffer from a mental illness, it’s alright to offer any kinda crappy words in encouragement. And what do we get if we lash out in frustration at this advice? ‘I was only trying to help, you’re being so moody’.
- Treat depression like cancer: purposeful (toddfitchette.wordpress.com)