5 Myths About Depression Men (and Everyone) Need to Stop Believing

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There are many misconceptions about depression that make it difficult for men to talk to others and take charge of their health. So, I’m going to expose some of the most common myths — with images made by HeadsUpGuys — in hopes to encourage men to take action and fight depression.

Here are some myths about depression men need to stop believing:

Myth #1: Depression is a sign of personal weakness.

Image of a two men talking. On the left it reads: Myth: Depression is a sign of personal weakness. On the right it reads: Reality: Even the toughest men we know can experience depression.

Depression can affect anyone including professional athletes, musicians, actors, lawyers, businessmen, writers, tradesmen, teachers, men in the military and everyone in between. Being depressed has nothing to do with personal weakness. It takes strength to fight depression.

Myth #2: Depression is a life sentence.

On the left it reads: Myth: Depression is a life sentence. On the right it reads: Depression can be treated and recovery is possible.

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When you’re depressed it may not seem like recovery is possible, but depression is clouding your thoughts. The fact is that many guys, including men who have tried to end their lives, have recovered from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Myth #3: Real men don’t ask for help.

On the left it reads, Myth: Real men don't ask for help. On the right it reads: Reality: Real strength is making the most of the people are resources available.

Many guys feel the need to solve things on their own and don’t like to ask for support whenever it can be avoided. But in other situations, like sports or physiotherapy, the same guys are more open to seeking the advice of professionals. Make the most of the services and supports available in your area.

Myth #4: If I can find a way to plough through, I can defeat depression on my own. 

On the left it reads: If I can find a way to plough through, I can beat depression in my own." On the right it reads, Reality: It takes a team to fight depression.

You win no awards for fighting depression on your own. Friends and family members are valuable supports in a guy’s recovery and often want nothing more than to support a man they care about.

Myth #5: Talking to a guy about depression will make things worse.

On the left it reads myth: Talking to a guy about depression will make things worse. On the right it reads: Reality: Your support could make his recovery possible.

Better health starts with a conversation. Though it may be difficult or awkward at first, talking about depression could actually end up changing a man’s life. Take the initiative to be a key step in his recovery, if he isn’t ready let him know you’re there whenever he needs.

To learn more about depression in men, visit HeadsUpGuys.

Lead photo: HeadsUpGuys

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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3 Accomplishments in the Morning for Someone With Depression

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She wakes up with me every morning.

6:30 a.m.

As I force my aching body up, slowly removing one leg at a time from beneath the sheets, she playfully pulls me back down under the covers. Her embrace is magnetic, and no matter how much I want to, I can’t break free. I let her win this battle and decide to lay awake with her for a little longer.

“I’d rather stay in bed,” she whispers to me, “than face the day anyway.”

I nod in agreement.

Forty-five minutes pass and nothing has changed. That’s it, I mutter. I need to get up before it is too late to get ready, then too late to go to class and then too late to take on this new day like the courageous and confident woman I am. She chuckles at my own little moment of self-worth and heroism. As if I were actually doing something that made a huge impact on the world. As if I were important enough. As if.

Regardless, I still need to get up.

Accomplishment #1: Getting out of bed.

I mosey on towards the bathroom, turn on the sink and watch as the water trickles down my hand. The overhead light begins to flicker in the room, bouncing back and forth like a seesaw. I am reminded, only for a fleeting moment, of my childhood. Smiling, I reminisce for a while. All I can see is a giant blurb of memories I seemed to have successfully stuffed away in storage, only opening the boxes when an undoubtedly insignificant event causes me to, like the light flickering in my bathroom.

“Do you not like to look at yourself in the mirror?” she asks.

Suddenly, I am brought back to reality. I am 18, not 8, despite my wishes otherwise.

“What?” I ask, puzzled and slightly annoyed.

“Well, I noticed that you haven’t looked in the mirror at all this morning. Why is that?” she asks again.

That’s a strange question to ask someone. Only she would notice something so petty like that. It’s none of her damn business really…the truth is, I haven’t liked looking at myself in the mirror for as long as I can remember, but I’m not going to tell her that.

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I glance to her again, shrug my shoulders and reply, “I don’t know.”

She paused, and for a while there was silence. She doesn’t like it when I don’t answer her the way she wants me to. She often times loses her temper with me.

“Look at yourself,” she says to me. Her long fingers make their way to my chin. I resist the pressure of her hand. I refuse to look in. I don’t want to. She begins to squeeze my flushed face. “Look,” she says again, a bit more irritated this time.

I still refuse.

She always overreacts…

I feel her fingernails begin to bury themselves deep into my skin. Anger radiates from her core. Her lips touching my ear now, she utters to me, “If you don’t look at yourself in this mirror I’m going to bash your head into it, do you hear me?”

Yes, I hear her. I hear this rant every day.     

Unwillingly, I accept her command.

Accomplishment #2: Looking at myself in the mirror

I peer into the mirror at my own reflection, staring at nothing but my groggy eyes. Tears bubble up and for the first time I notice how vibrant the hue of my eyes become when I cry. I like it. I like the look of them.

“Now do it,” she demands. I look to her in dismay. “Cut.”

My eyes grow wide and suddenly my lungs forget how to breathe. I muster up what strength and courage I have left to shake my head “no.” I can’t cut myself again.

But at the same time, what I feel afterwards is indescribable. How is what I do to my body harmful if I feel better after the action is complete?

“Cut. Scratch. Slice. Pinch. Do anything to your damn skin because you deserve it.”

Because you deserve it. 

Her words alone cut me like my razors.

Despite my familiar weakness and vulnerability in this moment, I do not cut. I don’t want to cut anymore. Why can’t she understand that?

Accomplishment #3: Not self-harming today

This was my morning routine for four years, and for the first time, by writing this story, I stood up to her.

I stood up to my depression

I acknowledged her, not as a person this time, but as my abusive illness. What I have learned in the recent months is that I am grateful to have felt such sadness and pain; it is the only real way to recognize true happiness and love. I recognize now the many people that love and care for me.

If you are battling with a mental illness like depression, my advice to you would be to…

Keep going and keep fighting hard. 

Your struggle may last for weeks, months or even years, but if you continue to fight, eventually you too will find the courage to stand up to your mental illness like I did.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to mentalhealth@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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8 Ridiculous Things Depression Is Making Me Do

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As a self-proclaimed workaholic, signing off work for my chronic depression in order to get used to my increase in medication has left a huge void in my life. In just three weeks I’ve morphed from a Superhuman Multi-tasker with a successful career in mental health and a thriving social life, to a filthy slug with some bizarre paranoia and an addiction to avocados. I’ve been assured that what I’m experiencing is normal while my mind tries to repair itself, and subsequently my body will follow. So I’m allowing myself to laugh at the weird things depression is making me to do, and of course share it with you, in the hope that if you find yourself in a similar position, you’ll know this is apparently normal.

Here’s what my depression is making me do:

1. Buy really weird things on Groupon.

I feel as though those going through a period of mental illness should have their online shopping accounts at least partially suspended until you are well, because being able to one-click your way through new material goods to ease your depression will never go well, no matter how much Groupon tells you this deal is amazing. So far, I have a new BlueTooth Fitness Tracker, which is hilarious as I haven’t walked further than to the bathroom in two and a half weeks. I have a new curling wand for my hair (which was an obvious must-have, considering I have a really short bob right now), an exercise bike which has definitely not been used but was a bastard to put together (and subsequently made me feel like a DIY Failure) and £42 left to pay my rent this month. Today, I embargoed by account when I almost bought a set of outdoor furniture (despite only having a tiny balcony for outdoor space) and an Indian cookery class. I just can’t help myself, my mind is saying no, but the depression is yelling, “Hey, but how much better would you feel if you were sitting on your outdoor furniture in your living room eating Indian food you’d cooked with curly hair?”

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2. Wake my boyfriend up in the middle of the night terrified I’d forgotten where China was.

I had. I don’t even know if I ever knew, or if this was something I’d forgotten, but I just didn’t know where it was in the world. He got up a world map on his phone and proceeded to show me. Mind blown. Since when was it that big? And where is Japan though? Was Japan always that small? Woah wait. China borders f*cking Russia? I actually asked the question, “How well do the Chinese and the Russians get along?” and “Why do we never hear about any nice things that happen between them? I’ve never seen a Russian person and a Chinese person be neighborly or unneighborly, so like, what happens? Do they like each other?” These questions went on for hours. I couldn’t sleep that night knowing my world has either grown or shrunk. I couldn’t work out which was worse.

3. Watch too many True Crime shows and apply to be an investigator.

Yep. If anyone watches TruTV or CBS Reality then you will know about the absolute gold mine of TV shows on there that can satisfy your need to solve mysteries and watch murder reconstructions. They are channels made for my mind right now. After watching so much TV, I decided I was skilled enough to be an investigator. I’m a genius, says 2 a.m. I, I could do this for a living.

4. Watch every 9/11 conspiracy video I can find.

For about two days, I became really passionate about 9/11 and working out what really happened. I’m not going to write down my thoughts because I’ve read that people have been killed for sharing their views on 9/11 (yeah, I really believe this). So I’m not going to indulge you, but, if you want to have a few sleepless nights, increase your psychiatric medications and indulge yourself in some good conspiracy videos. Absolute banter.

5. Make my body have a period for 12 days straight.

My depression has apparently picked up the phone to Mother Nature and said “Oh hey, you know what would be hilarious? Let’s give her a period now, too. For ages, like, a no-end-in-sight kinda thing.” And Mother f*cking Nature said, “Alright babe. LOL.” And that was it. Seriously Mother Nature, stop kicking me in the ovaries when I’m down.

6. Become obsessed with Kylie Jenner and hate myself for it.

That Coachella hair tho. Seriously. Hair goals. I want her lip kit, even though she literally has no right bringing out a lip kit when she’s only had lips for one year. And I hate myself again.

7. Read over 200 reviews about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cook book with no intention of buying it.

I just really needed to know about what people really thought of it. Apparently. Definitely mixed reviews, is my definitive outcome from my investigative work. Most comments say you need a Spiralizer. Some people say it is definitely better than her older one as recipes only take around 30 minutes to prepare but the cost of ingredients is still quite high… What am I doing?

8. Actually have a really nice time with my friends.

Surprise! It’s not all doom and bloody gloom. I hosted my own engagement party on Saturday — we’d had it booked for weeks before I fell ill, paid for all the food and people had planned their whole weekend around it, so despite my inability to be a real human, I still pulled myself out of bed and decided I would push myself no matter what. And it was really nice. I was surrounded by such incredible people who knew what I was going through, we had some drinks, laughs, we danced, I sang “Proud Mary” on karaoke so loud I lost my voice the next day and got really lovey with everyone. And yes, I had some wobbles, and did end up falling to sleep on the floor spooning my wardrobe because I was too anxious to ask people to leave my bedroom so I could sleep but it made me realize that although my depression can make me bleed, can make me paranoid and make me believe things are hopeless, it can also learn when it’s time to leave you be, just for a little bit while your friends try and heal you.

I think the one thing that’s been really tough is the guilt, which has been constant and relentless. I am constantly thinking, “What could I have actually achieved in these three weeks?” and I become so upset at the lack of achievements I’ve made (apart from the fact I could now win a pub quiz solely based on Kylie Jenner’s life). And that’s always going to be a struggle. We’re constantly bombarded with messages we only have one life and we’ve got to make every day count blah blah blah — we know. We really know. I’m really aware of this. Too aware of it, that it’s actually making me anxious about sitting still and looking after myself. I need to constantly be on my phone reading things to the point of obsession. I need to be working, I need to be applying for things that will make my life worthwhile and buying things that will make me happy and I need to be exercising, meditating, learning a language, see all my friends, visit my family, hold down a nine-to-five, chase my dreams, buy a house, have some babies, write a book, keep things clean, eat good food and for f*ck’s sake please stop it’s all too much.

I just need to breathe. And so do you. And that’s what this past three weeks have shown me. So what I didn’t get out of bed today? I actually really needed to sleep while my body adjusts to life again. Sometimes a bubble bath and a cup of chamomile tea isn’t enough — sometimes you just need to dance until you can’t move and laugh until you can’t breathe just to remind yourself you’re still human deep down and this depression can suck it. Maybe I don’t want to meditate today? Maybe I want to walk to Starbucks and eat a cake and listen to Fall Out Boy and remind myself that life is tasty and can be as good as I was when I was 16 and “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”

It was Depression Awareness Week last week, which my mind has so perfectly synced up to. I really encourage you to talk about it, take the pressure off yourself and know that it’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to lay in bed for days sometimes and just be. It’s OK to laugh at it, because it’s healing. And it’s OK to take all the advice you are given, and it’s perfectly OK to put two fingers up to the advice you’re given if you know that it will be better for you. Whatever works, just don’t feel guilty. You got this, there’s so many people rooting for you and if I can make it to the end of this, so can you.

Follow this journey on Life on Laura Lane

 The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Living With My Mother's Depression

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There was nothing terribly unique about the day my entire life prospective changed. I went to school as usual: a bright — if easily distracted– eighth grader, learning basic algebra and reading “To Kill a Mockingbird.” There was nothing there — I know, I’ve combed those memories a thousand times — to tell me that day would show me a side to my mother I’d never seen before.

Thinking back, I always knew there was something standoffish —

No.

My mother was distant woman, who —

No.

Growing up, my mother and I weren’t —

No!

OK. Breathe.

….

To this day, it’s difficult for me to address my feelings regarding my mother and how she completely turned my life on it’s head. Subconsciously, I think I always knew something wasn’t right. I mean, the only time she ever expressed affection toward me or even said she loved me was when it connected directly to some positive thing I’d done — some scholarly achievement, more often than not.

I learned pretty early if I wanted to be loved, I had to be good. Always good; always giving the right response, staying perfectly in-line. The fear and anxiety I attached to disappointing my parents — my mother — was so intense, I rarely got in trouble as a child, and when I did, it was the end of all things in my mind.

Now… well, I guess those lessons weren’t hers. They were jagged little shards of her own childhood, coming up and slicing into fresh, new victims. God, I remember how hollow it sounded sometimes, when she did manage to say she loved me. Like it was practiced; expected.

Not. True.

But I still yearned for it. Of course I did, I was a child — her first born at that. I wanted so badly to learn what it would take for her to love me properly. I struggled to figure out if the way she did was properly, and that other type of love (limitless and without clause) was the stuff of movies and fantasy.

I was too young to really understand what was going on, but life doesn’t wait for when you’re ready.

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On that random day in the middle of my eighth grade year, I came home to an empty house. Later, I would find out my younger brother was just next door with my aunt, but in that first moment, I was terrified. There was such finality in that house. It was just as empty as I was, even with everything still in its proper place.

I remember feeling dread as I checked each room for a sign of anyone or anything every living there. I think I knew even then… I was looking for my mother’s body.

The only reason I didn’t find one is because of intervention from one of my mother’s best friends. I wouldn’t really understand the gravity of the story I was told until later — years later — but this is how it was explained to me:

My mother sent a letter to her best friend, saying she wanted to kill herself and that she would take my brother and I with her in the process. Her best friend called the police, and she was institutionalized for her own safety and ours.

That’s it. There was no further explanation or discussion. My mother would be miles away in a mental health care facility for months following that, and I would only pick up the story of why years later. I wouldn’t learn about the abuse her mother had bestowed onto her and her siblings until I was halfway through high school. Even now I really don’t understand it all.

What I did learn is this: her psychologists diagnosed her with chronic, severe depression. During her time in the facility, she was only allowed to see us a few times a month. Each time, she was nearly incoherent with the powerful antidepressants they prescribed her, but… she was still, somehow, more engaging with my brother and I. I could see, even though I hated that dulled-down, incapacitated version of her, that whatever was happening there was helping her. At 12 years old, I could see that whatever they were doing at that mental health facility was repairing decades of damage my mother had suffered with silently my entire life.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always wanted to go into psychology.

I am not without my own scars. Now, in my mid-20s, I can see them clearer than ever before: my need to be acknowledged, my difficulties expressing myself, etc. To this day, this is something I can’t really talk about, let alone with my mother. Our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds, yet I cannot silence that voice in the back of my mind.

The one that is waiting for the day I get the call; waiting for the day it happens.

Every time she falls into a low point, I live in fear. I get tense; my friends question me about the changes in my personality. How do I say “I can’t move pass the fear that my mother will kill herself today”? How do I get to the stage of being able to tell her how her illness has shaped my life, too? Should I ever? I don’t have a clue.

I’m writing this for selfish reasons. My mother is the one who was diagnosed with chronic depression, right? But I live with my mother’s depression, too.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Cleaning Out the Cobwebs of Depression

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I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but there seems to be a distinct moment in my life that the light turned off and the cobwebs started to collect. There was no joy, no sadness. There was no feeling. There was just darkness and empty. I just didn’t care anymore. For a long time, I kept the door locked and just pretended I was fine. I discovered I was a great actor, and no one knew exactly how sick I was. But, kids have a funny way of blowing your cover.

My oldest daughter is 5 now. She’s bright, loves learning, loves playing at the park and her smile and giggle can light up a whole room. But I didn’t bond with her until I was pregnant with my second daughter. You see, I had postpartum depression. There was no spark when they handed me the screaming bundle of blankets. There was no joy. I was just in shock. How in the world was I supposed to care for this baby? You mean I have to do this by myself? Forever thankful for my husband, he held me up while we waited for the medication to kick in, for the light to turn on.

Then my youngest daughter was born. She is nearly 3 now. She is so headstrong and opinionated, just like her mother. She comes by her hard head and excellent debate skills well. Things were great after her birth. Until they weren’t. I developed anxiety and intrusive thoughts that I was terrified to tell anyone about because I just knew my daughters would be taken from me. The fear took over. So, I kept quiet and the light turned back off.

Then, we hit the breaking point. We found out I was pregnant with our last child, and the door broke. The cobwebs built up so much that they finally broke the door. My husband begged me to please, please find help. He told me what I needed to hear, that he wanted his wife back.

So, a mere month into my third and final pregnancy, I started therapy and my therapist picked up the broom to help me clear the cobwebs. We started by naming them, and that made them visible. Severe depression, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia with social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotillomania. Suddenly, the light was on. The cobwebs were still there, but we could see them, and they didn’t seem so scary anymore.

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I occasionally question myself in seeking therapy in the midst of pregnancy. After all, pregnant women are not exactly known for their stable emotions. But, in hindsight, it’s what I needed. I needed the intense release. I needed a safe place to unpack my bags while I cleaned out my head.

My third child, my son. He is almost a year old, and he is a clown. He is always laughing and smiling, and he has really brought us all together. I may live on coffee and adrenaline, but there is never a day I don’t smile now.

The cobwebs are still there. Ever present, but I now have a team to help me clean them out. They’re no longer invading every corner, and I’m not a slave to my sick mind. The dark days still happen, the fear still takes over. But, the difference is, I don’t have to face this alone.

I only wish I had let someone pick up a broom sooner.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to mentalhealth@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Learn How to Perfectly Cover Your Depression With This Makeup Tutorial

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You wake up, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, comb your hair and then cover up your blemishes using your favorite shades, Denial and Emotional Repression… right?

Well, you shouldn’t have to. But for the 16 million American adults who experience at least one depressive episode a year, this can be the reality when you’re trying to “pass” or cover up your mental illness.

In a video by YouTuber Amy Geliebter, she shows what it can be like living with depression in a society full of stigma, using a makeup tutorial with lines like, “First start with priming your face with a nice, thick coat of chemical imbalance” and “For our eyes, we’re going to be using the shade, ‘just be happy’ for our base.”

It’s hilarious… but also too real.

Check out the video below:

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