Content Warning: This article may be distressing to some people. If you need help, please reach out to Headspace or call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Everyone knows about depression.
Everyone knows that some people are sad, and ‘just find everything a little darker than the rest of us’.
Everyone knows to ask people if they’re alright, and to give them support if they need it.
Some people are just depressed, and everyone knows that.
So why do we need this? Why do we need awareness if everyone knows?
Because for far too many people, nobody knows.
It’s almost impossible to tell, but it can be said at least 1 in 16 young people are currently dealing with depression. That’s one in every class you’re in, 5 or 6 in your year level at school, probably a handful of people you’ve spoken to today.
More importantly, this is one in every sixteen Facebook friends you have. One in sixteen of your followers on twitter or Instagram. One in sixteen of the people you talk to every day. And even though ‘everyone knows’, you don’t know. You don’t know because they haven’t said, and because it’s just not quite comprehensible that it could happen to them. The statistics are endless, their conclusions absolute. Depression is prevalent, is common, is normal, and is hidden.
It’s hidden in a forced smile and in a subdued laugh, in nights spent alone or in lazy day after lazy day. It’s hidden in so many ways, and only because people refuse to accept it as an issue, as something that is real and tangible. Just one in four young people with mental health issues find professional health, despite the plethora of facilities available.
Nobody speaks out, because nobody really asks. Nobody talks about the issue because it’s so much easier to simply pretend it’s not there. The stigma of depression acts as an impenetrable barrier that blocks people from finding the help they need.
Because the intrinsic idea of mental illness in so many people is the idea of ‘us’ and of ‘them’. It’s the idea that these people who are suffering are not people we know, that they do not walk and talk with or like us. We don’t see the sadness in the people around us because we don’t think it would ever happen to the people we know.
And that isn’t simply a presumptuous statement from an over-idealistic viewpoint. That is lived, and understood by anyone who has ever had a close friend confess the mental illness that has consumed their life, and had never had a thought that they could be suffering. It’s understood by anyone who has ever felt the debilitating effects of an illness and been scared to come out of their protective shell of quiet smiles and dark thoughts. It’s understood by anyone who has seen depression, and yet it’s still not known.
Everyone knows about depression, but so many more than we think actually know depression. They know its darkness and its complexities, they know how it hides around the corner and how it sits in their mind waiting to come out into sight.
Too many people know depression, and not enough know that.
Please, if you have a story, share it with us and let these people know that they’re not alone, and lend strength to those who haven’t yet found the strength to stand.