Ola, September 19, 2018

“Depression doesn’t define me, but it is part of me, and trust me, I’m not ‘mad’.”

Just because it’s called a mental health problem, it doesn't mean that I’m ‘mental’. 

I hate the word mental. There are so many negative connotations that surround it; to call a person mental is to call them mad, or out of control, or ludicrous. Yet, unfortunately, I have a condition that is defined as a mental health problem; I have depression.

In reality, I knew I did long before I actually got diagnosed. Let’s be honest, it’s hardly positive to have thoughts of wishing to simply not exist (or as I call them, ‘Bad Thoughts’.) However, because of the stigma behind the diagnosis, it took me years to even contemplate going to the doctors. I was so scared. From past experience, people would respond to the idea of depression as individuals simply feeling ‘sad’, or even just making up these emotions ‘for attention’. Then it would go to the other extreme of suggesting that I could be ‘crazy'. Trust me, it doesn't exactly instill confidence in those wanting to disclose this information to others.

It wasn’t until a particularly bad time, that I decided I actually had to go and seek help from professionals. It had begun to affect my ability at university, and it was getting ridiculous how long I had already left it. Always the procrastinator, I suppose. Nonetheless, and this is the important bit, I did go and get the help I so badly needed. I got a counsellor and began to actually start speaking everything through. 

Before all of this, I literally would not really tell anyone about my feelings, but now…well, I would rather say it and be honest, than pretend to be someone else. Everyone needs help sometimes, and that doesn’t make them a remotely weak person. I sometimes still struggle to deal with that perception of myself, but trust me, a large reason for the continuous stigma is the lack of conversation about it. Once you begin talking to friends, and family, you realise how many people have been through similar situations, or didn’t actually understand it in the first place. Since then, I’ve been asked multiple times about my condition and about what it involves. 

I’m a normal person, a strong person and an able person. Yes, sometimes I can be affected when my depression comes in waves, but I have found ways, and am always looking for new ways, to cope. It is a medical condition and needs more understanding. You wouldn’t go up to an asthmatic, and suggest that they are making up their breathing problem, so why is it okay to do that to someone with any mental health issue? 
Depression doesn’t define me, but it is part of me, and trust me, I’m not ‘mad’.

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