To the Person Who Made a Meme Calling Depression Medication 'Sh*t'

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Firstly, I want to start off by making one thing clear: We get nowhere by using foul language and speaking in black and white, all or nothing views.

It’s important to keep an open mind, as you say in your meme, to other perspectives and opposing points of view. Thus, with all due respect, this is what I have to say to you about your meme.
Memes shows two photos. On the top is a picture of the woods. Text reads "This is an antidepressant." Bottom shows a picture of pill. Text reads: "This is shit."

I don’t know your credentials, and you don’t know mine. We don’t know each other’s stories and most likely will never even cross paths. If we do, I doubt we’ll make the connection and remember this time. So I ask that you please keep in mind perhaps my perspective is different than yours. Perhaps my story and what I’ve been through has shown me a different piece of this world than your story has shown you.

I do want to acknowledge you are partially correct — there’s a lot that being outdoors can help. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression. In some cases, and perhaps in yours, nature can help with a lot.

But then there are the other cases, and I write you this on their behalf. I write for the teenage girl who went for a run every morning and rode horses every week. I write for the cheerleader who plays softball and is an avid cyclist. I write this on behalf of all the people in the world who have depression and have tried exercise, have tried being in nature, have tried going outside — and it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t been enough. I write this on behalf of the people who have needed medication, and there’s no getting around that.

Nature is not an absolute, 100 percent cure for depression, and medications are not worthless.

Sometimes people just need medication. Sometimes they need Prozac, or Zoloft, or Abilify, or Seroquel, or Risperadal, or Cymbalta or Effexor. For those people no amount of running, being outside, sports or vitamin D would be enough. I plead with you, please, remember them.

Because you don’t know where they are. When they see your meme they might be about to pick up the phone and make that psychiatrist consult. Maybe your meme will make them pause. Maybe that’s what you were hoping. But maybe for them that pause doesn’t help. Maybe for them they pause and get trapped even further in the hole their depression has buried them in. Telling them it’s their fault. That if exercise doesn’t help, nothing else will and since exercise hasn’t helped they’re out of hope.

Depression is a disorder, and needs to be treated as such. Treat depression the same way you’d treat a stroke or an arrhythmia or heart failure. Treat it seriously. Would you ever tell someone with a heart condition not to take their medication? What about telling someone with asthma to stop using their inhaler? Would you tell someone with kidney failure not to show up for dialysis? Of course not. You might scoff at my questions and perhaps you find my redundancy ridiculous. But I want you to think about it for a moment. The brain is an organ. Just like the heart, or lungs or even kidneys. It’s a vital organ. You need it to survive. It’s important to make sure it’s functioning correctly.

The question I have for you is this: Why is depression an exception?

Of course someone with an arrhythmia needs to take their medication. Of course someone with a stroke should go to the hospital. Medical conditions require medical care. Depression is a medical condition, the same as any other. It has it’s own set of symptoms just like every other condition. But if you believe medical conditions require medical treatment, depression should not be an exception.

Your meme does not change my mind, and in all honesty I doubt my letter will change yours. You don’t know my story and I don’t know yours. Of course, medication isn’t the right choice for everyone. In some cases, being outside can help. So perhaps you can acknowledge that in some cases medications can help. Because, as you said, it is always important to keep your mind open.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a meme, image or sign you’ve seen shared online that struck a chord with you, for good or for bad. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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I Don't Fit the Stereotype of a Depressed Person

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“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling  —  that really hollowed out feeling. That’s what dementors are.”  — J.K Rowling.

If you’ve read “Harry Potter,” you’ll understand Rowling’s reference. If not, let me describe a dementor. They are faceless, black-cloaked things that feed off happiness and suck the good out of people, leaving nothing more than a lifeless, cold shell. 

Those who suffer depression may understand the feeling Rowling describes in her novels. Those who don’t may shrug off the reference. For someone who doesn’t suffer from the terrible illness, depression is hard to describe. This difficulty has led to a social stigma of depressed people, subjecting the sufferers to embarrassment, fear and even more loneliness than they already feel. The stigma further extends to talking about any type of mental health issue. People have this fixed idea of what mentally ill people should be like.

They think mentally ill people are ones who have suffered great loss, or had a hard upbringing, or did something to bring it on themselves. Many believe there needs to be some kind of specific, heart-wrenching trigger. For some people with depression, this couldn’t be anymore wrong. 

I have depression. But I don’t fit the stereotype of a depressed person.

I didn’t have a rough upbringing. I was a happy child. I always had food in my stomach, clothes on my back and I was surrounded by love. I had good friends.

I am intelligent, I got good grades all through school. The only negative thing about my school reports was my constant chatter and socializing during class, which is hardly a warning sign for depression. 

I get along with my brothers. My parents love me. There is no violence at home. I am doing well at university. I have loving friends and an amazing boyfriend who supports and loves me unconditionally.

And I still suffer a depressive anxiety disorder. 

For someone who has never experienced a mental illness, it’s difficult to describe. 

For me it is the days I cannot physically get out of bed. It is the days where staring at the roof is easier than dealing with happy, “normal” people. It is not having enough strength to cry, let alone strip myself of the clothes I’d been wearing for the last week and shower. 

For me it is the days where I cannot eat, or I overeat to try and make myself feel better.

For me it is the days where my mood swings are so violent I’m scared my boyfriend is going to leave because there is no way he was prepared to deal with this. 

For me it is the panic attacks in the middle of the night and the middle of the day that come from nowhere. 

For me it is the inability to concentrate on school work or on my job. It is the sickening feeling of letting people down every time you unsuccessfully try to complete something else.

For me it was cleaning up blood and sobbing on the shower floor then trying hard to hide the scars so no one thought I was “crazy. “

For me it is the days where I feel nothing at all. I feel hollow, alone, empty. 

For me it is the years I struggled with the secret because I was too scared and embarrassed to get help.

Even with the help of a psychologist and medication I still feel unstable most of the time. I do not have 100 percent good days, but does anyone? I find some comfort in knowing the number of good days outweighs the bad. 

The reason I am writing this is not for the attention. I don’t want the sympathy. What I want is to give some kind of insight in a hope that people will begin to understand and continue to work towards breaking the stigma. I want people to understand that the most beneficial thing you can do to help a mentally ill person is just to be there and not judge them for what they are going through.

Let them talk if they need to talk. Let them cry on you. Let them get angry, but make an effort to calm them down. Never tell them it’s just a faze or that their just sad. 

Depression is not sadness. Depression is the numb feeling that can develop from being sad. It is a thing someone lives with daily — a thing they are trying to battle on their own. Do not make it harder; try your hardest to make things easier.

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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Questions I'm Tired of Answering About Depression – and What I'd Rather Hear Instead

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I am open about my struggle with depression. I share and answer as many questions as possible in hopes it will aid the next person. However, there are questions that I simply can’t bring myself to answer anymore. But I’ll answer them anyway, and also let you know the questions I’d rather hear.

1. “You are so happy, how can you be depressed?”

I’m an emotional chameleon, easily masking my emotions to fit in with those around me. From a young age I learned people don’t want to hear how you really feel. Negative feelings make people gravitate away, so many people with depression hide their pain behind fake smiles and giggles. This is why the “happiest” people can still die by suicide. So in most cases I’m not OK or happy, I just want to make sure you remain in a positive space.

I’d rather have you ask, “Do you need to offload?”

Often when I’m having an episode, I find it hard to speak to those I love. I’m afraid of the disappointed looks I’ll get when I tell them how I feel. By asking someone with depression share with you, you give them permission to drop the façade.

2. “How are you a Christian and depressed? Clearly you don’t pray enough.”

I remember having a conversation with my former doctor that made me feel like I was less of a Christian for having depression. I would soon learn depression can be taboo in Christianity. You don’t talk about it as it reflects badly on your faith. Many of the people I talk to about my depression make me feel weak and unchristian; almost as though God can’t love someone with a disease like mine.

I’d rather have you ask, “Did your faith give you the strength to seek help?”

Seeking help is difficult because it makes you feel like you can’t cope with everyday pressure. It took many tears and tons of prayer to master the strength to seek professional help. If anything, my faith allowed me to see the illness was bigger than I could handle on my own.

3. “Why do you need a psychiatrist?”

Although many doctors prescribe antidepressants, I found it best to see and receive treatment from a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are like doctors and psychologists in one. They determine which psychological disorder you have, they prescribe medication best suited for this disorder, and they monitor how you respond to this medication. Psychiatrists sometimes also provide talk therapy (not to the extent of psychologist), which they use to determine the efficacy of the treatment.

I’d rather have you ask, “What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?”

It is common to confuse the two. I had no idea there was a difference until I began treatment. Basically a psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in mental health disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Psychologists, on the other hand, do not prescribe medication.

4. “Why would you need antidepressants?”

I need antidepressants like a diabetic needs insulin. Without them I may find it almost impossible to sleep, eat, shower or leave the house. It’s that simple.

I’d rather have you ask, “How is treatment going?”

The biggest issue is not whether I need antidepressants, but rather which antidepressants will work best. Finding the correct balance of medication is not easy; it’s a trial and error process.

5. “Why are you always sick/tired if depression is ‘in your head’?”

Although depression is a mental disorder, it does manifest itself physically. A very common manifestation is terribly back pains. For months I went to a physiotherapist in order to help manage the pain. As for the fatigue, this is due to two reasons: either I sleep too much or too little. During most of my life at school I lived on less than three hours of sleep a day. During really bad spells I could go a whole week with no sleep. I began suffering from chronic fatigue, where even sleeping pills did little to help. This changed when I began to work. I would find myself wanting to sleep for hours on end. I would sleep for 12 hours or longer, and I would still be tired. This left me lethargic. I still have days when this happens. It acts as a good indicator I’m getting more depressed than usual.

I’d rather have you ask, “I heard depression can also be physically taxing. Tell me more.”

Depression means terrible back pain and headaches. It means waging war on your own body. Asking me to talk about it helps me comes to terms with it. It helps both the sufferer and their family better understand the illness.

6. “Why do you tell people you have depression? It freaks them out.”

I share my experience because I don’t want people to live with the stigma of mental disorders. I want people to be comfortable with the concept of seeing psychologists and seeking help when necessary. I want people to realize mental disorders are real, and not only for a specific section of society.

I’d rather have you ask, “Why is speaking openly about your depression important to you?”

This answer will differ depending who you ask. Some people feel the need to speak openly and freely when having an episode as it helps them cope. I am one of those people. I also speak openly about it because I don’t want people living with depression to feel alone. When I was first diagnosed, I thought I was alone in the world. Speaking about it has made me realize there is a large community willing to help every step of the way.

Depression is a serious disease that goes undetected. If you suspect those you love suffer from any mental disorder, be supportive and encourage them on their journey to recovery.

Follow this journey on Memoirs of a Virgin Prostitute.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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When My Professor Helped Me Discover I Had Depression

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Fifteen years ago, around this time of year, I was at the lowest point in my life. I had always been a little “down in the dumps” from time to time. I was always sort of a pessimist. I complained a lot, didn’t have many friends and just kept to myself most of the time. I had someone I loved in my life, but we were in a long distance relationship. I was also away from my parents and I started to push away the few friends I had with my isolating behaviors.

I’ve heard one of the first things to be affected by depression is one’s perception. With me, this was absolutely true. I felt like my life was spiraling downward and out of control, but most things were actually OK! I was doing well in college and getting good grades. I had a couple of great friends as well as a boyfriend and parents who loved me, even though they were miles away. So why did I feel so awful? I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know how to define it.

One day during this spiral, my practicum supervisor (I was studying to be a teacher) pulled me aside after class. She wanted to speak to me privately. She asked me how my practicum was going. I lied and told her it was going fine when truly I felt like I couldn’t handle it and I could barely drag myself to get out of bed every day.

She asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine even though I had been to the doctor recently trying to find out why I was so tired all the time.

She looked at me, her eyes full of concern, and said “It just seems to me that you are very depressed.”

That was the word. That was it. The truth hit and I began to cry, at first just a little, but soon I was sobbing uncontrollably. She gave me some information about the student health center and helped me set up an appointment to go see a counselor there.

I can’t remember the name of my professor, but that first step — her ability to recognize the signs I was blocking out, set me on the path to recovery. Were it not for that professor, I don’t know if I would be here today. I hope somewhere out there in internet-land, this reaches her as a thank you. But even if it doesn’t, I want her to know I am thankful for what she did and said. You never know how your words may influence another. For me, her words set me on a path to recovery and eventually led me down the road to become a professional counselor. I encourage everyone to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of mental illness if you are concerned about a friend or a loved one. Let them know you are concerned, sometimes it only takes a few words to change someone’s life forever.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a conversation you’ve had that changed the way you think about disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Dear Friend, This Is Why I Can't Come to the Party

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Dear person I’m “bailing on,”

Currently I’m in bed, and I’m terrified to get up. I have depression, and days like today are the worst. When I lay here I’m safe, and right now I’m OK. But if I sit up, it’s almost as if I’m surrounded by clouds of dark and terrible things. I lay on my back looking up, but I don’t see the roof over my head. I see shadows, and they drift above me like a haze.

So now I have a choice. I can choose to forfeit today’s match, or get up and fight. Of course I want to fight back against this unrelenting, undefinable and essentially permanent monster in my head. So some days I do just that. But I feel so exhausted. All my energy has been used fighting with my own mind. I lay back down and relish my moment of relief.

Suddenly I start to sweat. I feel it. It brushes my heart, encouraging it to beat faster. Then it wraps its hands around my throat and holds me down. Now it starts to whisper all the things I’ve messed up, or missed, or forgot, and it gets louder, telling me I’m not enough, to just give in. I fight back, I stay still and I breath.

Now it’s mad. It tightens its grip on my throat and leans harder on my chest. Yelling at me, screaming at me that it’s no use, I belong to it now and I better be ready because “now I’m going to make you scream…” And in that moment every inch of my body lights on fire and my bones become cement and all I want to do is wreck my whole life, break anything I can touch, cut myself, burn myself. Anything to either change this feeling or give me a reason to feel it.

I fight more and it gets worse until I collapse. Broken. Defeated. My head returns to my pillow, the grip on my throat slowly loosens and I can breath. I lay there staring into the haze, hoping I sleep, or at the very least when tomorrow comes the haze will have gone away.

That’s most days for me.

So please, when I don’t show up, know it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I lost that battle that. And there is no pride, no glory, no relief.

But I’m trying. I’m surviving.

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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A Love Letter to Myself When Depression and Anxiety Strike

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I am capable of great things, of extraordinary passion and wholehearted commitment. I am smart, funny, warm and reliable. I am loved. These are things I know in my head and not in my heart. There are, I am sure, several reasons for that. But the one I address today is the life-long struggle of battling depression and generalized anxiety.

I went about 16 years without being diagnosed. I was sure I was defective, that it was my fault, that I needed to try harder and it would all go away. But it never did. I felt increasingly isolated and alone. My most intimate contacts still felt like strangers. The product of all this was ever decreasing self-esteem and a perpetual sense of personal failure. No matter what I accomplished, the steady fears and the looming cloud of emotional exhaustion that accompanies generalized anxiety and depression silenced any loving voice that tried to bring healing to the things that were fractured. 

I vowed then, as I still vow now, to practice self love. With discipline. So, I am sharing with you a love letter I wrote to myself. After all, how can you love others if you can’t love yourself? I encourage you to do the same. You are not your illness. You have intrinsic worth, and there are people who love you without condition, in the midst of both failures and success. Let yourself bathe in the love today. Don’t give those critical, cruel voices any room to make your mind their own. All these positive words apply to you, too. Please, remember… you are loved.

Dear me, 

You are so worthy, so capable, so strong. Friends, family and the like are passionate about your well-being and wish to see you happy, whole and healthy. You are loved. You have been blessed with a good job, with good friends, with a good community of loving people at your church and with an extraordinary best friend and boyfriend who loves you deeply and without condition. Your mom loves you. Your daddy loves you. God loves you. You have a car to drive, a bed to sleep in, food to eat. You are infinitely blessed. You are smart, resourceful, capable, brave and kind. You are stronger than you realize. Don’t give in, don’t give up. You are worthy of love and affection and adoration. You are succeeding and growing more each day. You inspire others. You have importance. You are precious and without blemish. You are not broken or damaged or second-hand goods. There is nothing “wrong” with you — different does not mean dangerous and mental illness does not invalidate you. Never give up. Never relinquish what matters most. Fight for yourself, because you’re worth it. I love you. I will never leave you. We can do this together. You are never, ever alone…

All my love,

Amanda 

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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