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When I Was Told to 'Prove' My Depression


Prove it.

Two words that both invalidate you and put you on the spot at the same time.

By saying this, you are showing me you don’t believe I’m in pain. You are telling me just because I don’t look depressed means I must not be. What you don’t know is my mom is gone and there have been months at a time when I cried myself to sleep every night.

You are telling me I don’t deserve the title. Like you earn the label depression by reaching a certain point where it’s obvious to everyone. Not only that, but in front of everyone you have just challenged me to show you I’m depressed. What do you expect next? Do you want me to jump into the fire? Break down crying? Or do you want me to just give up and pretend I never said anything. I’m sure it would be much easier for you if everyone around you was perfect.

Guess what? They aren’t.

The worst thing you can do to someone who struggles with anything that isn’t obvious to the public is to make them feel like they aren’t entitled to feel that way. You are questioning the only thing they feel anymore. You are telling them you don’t respect them enough to not make fun of their illness. Just because depression isn’t obvious to you doesn’t mean it’s not there.

All a depressed person wants — other than a nap — are people who understand. Be this for them. Understand feelings should never have to be proved to you. The fact you were told about it in the first place is a victory. Don’t expect us to wear depression like a sign. That’s not productive and it isn’t fair.

Next time you are thinking about telling someone to “prove it,” think about what you are actually saying. To those who are told to show your depression: don’t. Your illness is your illness and it’s completely up to you how much you want to show it. If dealing with it on your own is the best thing for you, then do it. Don’t allow someone else to be the judge of our pain. Nobody else needs to validate you. Just focus on you.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.