Brock's Corner, MFX Ramblings

Shoes that don’t quite fit…(Stereotypes and Stigmas)

Greetings once more, Friends.

Well, here I am once more, struggling to write out an opening. My advice? Get used to it. Those who I’ve written with before are more than aware of the concordant theme. (I mean all you have to do is look at the title of this piece.)

Today, as promised to you, we will be discussing a few of the stigma’s and stereotypes that many believe to be true about depression. In truth after years of witnessing what people believe to be true about my current and present condition through depictions on TV and movies, it took a lot for myself to realize what the problem is. However, in recent times, there have also been a number of misguided counter measures (particularly in social media) in an effort to be supportive, however, I find somewhat destructive to the treatment process, which we will also be covering.

Once again, I would like to point out at this juncture that these are purely from my own experiences. If you are currently suffering from depression, and have theories differing from mine, then fantastic. Different theories lead to different solutions, which in turn creates discussion about the real issue. If you think that things are different, then feel free to say in the comments below (just try not to turn this into “The Best of Stolen Youtube Troll Comments”, because no one needs that shit, OK?)

And once more, I’m not a legal qualified medical professional, this is all theory, consult a doctor before you do anything silly (You may find the rest of the legal in my first post, here: http://www.marksforxcellence.com/?p=764 )

So without further or do, let us proceed…

“Depression is being ‘sad’ all the time”

This is the number one problem with people who are unfamiliar with depression, or have not experiences it themselves, they go off what is generally depicted in films. Namely that people who suffer from depression, are exceptionally sad. Because in truth, depression is exceedingly difficult to convey over an hour and a half, and so in order to save time, they elect to go with the stereotype that depression is nothing but a continual trail of sadness. And to an extent, sadness is a major player in depression. However, happiness is another. As is anger, joy, elation and frustration.

Depression is not a singular emotion. Depression is more to do with how we convey our emotions, both to ourselves, and to those around us. Myself? I don’t convey any kind of emotion to my condition. In fact if I had to put any sense or feeling down it would be “numb”. A “void” of emotion, mostly due to fear of my expression. Whenever I have expressed myself in the past, it has generally leaded to bad consequences. And, as such, in an effort to protect those around me from my moods, I decide to cut them off.

Because in my head, I would rather that everyone was happy around me, and I cut myself off from the world, then express myself and further endanger the trust of those I hold well and dear. This is not a safe means to battle depression, and I do so knowing that. The reason? Well that leads into our next stereotype…

“Depressed people are ‘selfish’, and need to “get over it””

The reason that I bottle everything up is, fundamentally, for other people. Because I have always been told to be nice to others, and put others before yourself.

I don’t want other people “dealing” with my emotions, therefore I do my best to retract them from the world. Which is, no doubt the reason that it took me so long to actually seek help. There were some that told me that I needed to see someone. However, due to the first stigma of depressed people being sad all the time, I simply assumed it was other things, such as lack of sleep, wasting money on shit I don’t need or use, poor diet choices, etc. These things, I didn’t realize were the affect and not the cause of me feeling like this. I was doing these things in a short-sighted effort to make myself feel better, only to realize too late that in the long run they only exacerbated the situation.

The reason this happened (and to get back to my original point) is that I put most of my depression down to my natural subservience, and putting others before myself, which is lovely in theory, however in practice it never really works. You begin by doing nice things for people, in the effort to get them to do nice things for you. However, being “nice” is done under the pretense that you are not supposed to “expect” anything in return. So one of my problems is the fact I feel bad for the fact that my good deeds are not returned to me, and I feel even worse for expecting them to.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you were able to follow that train of thought.

So when you get yourself into a position like mine, and you’re actually willing to admit that you’ve got a problem, it is counter-productive for people to start calling you “selfish”, and telling you that you need to “get over it”.

The harsh reality is that those “selfish” people have done their best to try and protect you from their emotions. They have done their hardest to make sure that you don’t suffer because of their mood swings. They do their best to make sure you’re not put out of place because their having a bad day, but don’t want to share it with you. They don’t want you to go through what they are, so they bottle it up.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is why it’s taken the world so long to get to the point where we can actually talk about it. Because each and every one of us was petrified to actually come out to everyone. When I post this on Facebook for my family and friends to see, I DREAD to think what they’re going to make of it, let alone random strangers across the internet who I barely know. And perhaps most importantly when you’ve been holding onto these feelings, and these fears for so long, that when you finally can’t take it anymore and actually tell someone for them to turn around and say “Suck it up, everyone’s got problems…” is unquestionably the biggest slap in the face you could give someone.

If we could just “get over it”, why are we telling you about these problems? Why are we coming to you for help if we could do it ourselves? Why are we putting our trust and faith in you to help us find a solution if we could just “move on”?

It’s a nasty lesson, but one I’m hoping you can all learn from.

“Depressed people are “Strong””

I saw this on Facebook a few weeks ago. It stated that depressed people aren’t weak, they’re “strong” for “holding on so long”.

This is a rather stupid attempt to make depressed people feel better, by people who don’t understand what depression is. It’s a nice idea, and the language used is meant to be encouraging, however, I strongly disagree with it. If you want people to be honest and open about seeking treatment, then why are you implying that there is ‘strength’ in holding it in for as long as you can? What has happened here is that while in an effort to help the situation, in my eyes, they’ve made it worse without realizing.

You do not call a tiger strong because of the cage you put it in.

You do not call a bear strong because of the deepness of its hibernation.

You do not call a depressed person strong because they didn’t want to open up to you.

Preventing people from coming forward with their condition will only spread fear for those thinking of doing so. By saying they’re strong for holding on, you make them feel weak by actually talking about it. So they won’t. They won’t come forward. They won’t seek help. And in the end, they will do what they can to make themselves feel better, be that drink, drugs, risky sex, cutting, or even just coming to the natural conclusion that all must end to make the suffering go away.

Which leads me to my final point…

“All depressed people are suicidal.”

I’ll be doing a full post about this at a later date, however, I’d like to clear the air on the “S” word.

It is my personal belief that depressed people are not suicidal. It is my personal belief that they MAY become suicidal. I see suicide in depression as a possible outcome, but by no means a certainty.

When people hear about depression, they immediately think of the worst possible outcome. It’s completely human to do so, however, I strongly feel that suicide is the be all and end all of depression, reserved for those who do not have any other means to continue. They cannot/will not seek help, and have literally been driven to the point where ending it all is honestly the only way they can stop feeling like this. They feel that there is honestly no other way to continue.

I’ve known a large number of depressed people, and many are still coming out now. However, of those who I do know, I doubt many of them have contemplated the thought. I remember talking to someone about a counseling group session that he went to once. He was telling me about one man there, who literally no longer had the desire to breath. He simply wanted to stop, because he saw little point in continuing.

My friend suffers from depression, however, even he questioned as to how someone could get into that low of a state. In truth even I do, where the very thing that keeps your existence going is questioned, not so much as a necessity, but now is nothing more than a hindrance to prolong your pain.

As a depressed man, why is it that I cannot understand why another depressed man would want to end his life? Why is it that as a depressed man, I DO NOT want to end my life? Surely if we are both depressed, then we must be one and the same, and I should feel the way he does. Why is it that I want to continue breathing?

Because as I’ve said before, depressed people are all different. They all have different experiences, and all have different outcomes. Every example is unique, and in truth, Stigmas and Stereotypes do nothing to assist people in finding the treatment they needs. The whole spectrum of mental health ranged until the end of the world, and yet some choose to fixate on the singular points they can comprehend. Honestly I feel I could go on all day about the apparent traits of depression, however, I feel we’ve gone on for far too long already.

So what do you think? Am I completely wrong? Do you agree? Do you have any more stereotypes that you wish to see corrected? Feel free to leave a comment below, or you can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/brockrhysner. Who knows, if I get some followers, I might be inclined to use it more. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this rant of mine. It would appear that once I get going, I’m actually quite difficult to stop. Oh well, until next time.

Far Thee Well,

-Brock

  • dq

    Great article and I hope a lot of people read it. Depression is so much more than sadness, and actually knowing that, and realizing it can prevent a lot of the guilt I feel from times when I’m feeling lethargic (as opposed to being lazy) and when I feel a strong desire to make bad choices. There are so many aspects of depression that it is hard to recognize in ourselves, let alone expect anyone else to understand.

    As for protecting others by withdrawing our feelings…. Staying silent is one thing, but when people actually want us to smile or “cheer up” or generally wear a fake emotion so that they can feel good… That is the point at which I think “f*ck ’em and I am totally fine with being selfish…. And I have to say, it’s a very satisfying feeling. (that being said, being an immigrant, my situation is different, I’m not surrounded by people I have a desire to “protect” because the few I care about more or less understand me at this point)

    Thank you for this and your previous article Brock. I’m also very glad you post in the mfx fit club.