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Why This 'Big Brother' Contestant's Rant About Depression Is So Dangerous


It’s suicide prevention month, and as most of you know, suicide is the second leading cause of death in children and teens, second to accidents.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 3 a.m. (I rarely sleep when I am beginning to swing from bipolar disorder) and went to Twitter to find the following from former Big Brother contestant and kick boxer Andrew Tate.

Now we know this guy is clearly lacking any sort of empathy, but my issue is that in 2017, we are still having to battle this ridiculous fucking mindset — ignorance. It’s never OK to discount an illness, not fucking ever. That is the stuff that stops people from reaching out for help, and that is never OK.

Unkind people are usually that way because others have been unkind to them, but there is no excuse for ignorance or complete denial of mental health issues. That is a dangerous thing.

When ignorance is given a voice, ours must be louder.

Tate goes on and on in his Twitter rant stating, “Sure I’d be depressed if I was broke. Fat. Lonely. With zero life goals. Do I need pills or a reality check? You propagate the excuses.” 

Then I think about the well-known and much-loved souls who have died by suicide and seemed to have been living everything Tate praises and I get furious.

Kurt Cobain.

Robin Williams.

David Foster Wallace.

Chris Cornell.

According to Tate, “Pretending depression is something you catch and absolving all personal responsibility while downing pills and complaining is BS,” and that, my friends, is fucking staggering to me.

Because this guy can not wrap his head around facts, he’d rather admonish anyone who struggles, and then kicks it up a notch with words like these: “Everyone’s a depressive now. Oh, you’re all so special and have such hard problems those in Syria are glad they aren’t you boohoo.” 

Trolls the likes of Andrew Tate are a dime a dozen. People struggling with depression and other mental illnesses are one in five. And while Tate discriminates, mental illness doesn’t. Let’s all hope the black dog is never nipping at his heels.

The Andrew Tates of the world are part of the problem, people who live with depression aren’t. You are a badass every damn day, because not only must you struggle with your own thoughts, you have to fight against the misinformed Andrew Tates of the world. Rock on with your badass selves, you’re the winners here.

If you are struggling at all, reach out. It is hard to do, but it is one of the bravest and best things you will ever do. Never be ashamed of your illness, it’s not your fault. Never let the unkind words of another stop you from seeking help because regardless of what fools say, they are only that: fools, fools who are looking for attention. You matter, your life matters and you are never alone.

This piece originally appeared on The Lithium Chronicles.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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When You Can't 'Think' Your Way Out of Depression


This blog post about depression was recently reposted by Tim Ferriss, a self-help author, podcaster and TV personality. He has a massive reach across his platforms with piles and piles of influence. His main point in the post was: how you “think” about depression is the problem, not the actual disorder.

Long story short, he blamed you. He blamed you for not being grateful enough. He blamed you for seeking out help from a doctor who diagnosed you with depression and you now call it “depression.” He blamed you for your thoughts.  He said all you have to do is practice gratitude training and *poof* you’re cured, or … maybe you’re not cured since you know, you only have depression if you “think” you have it.

I listen to Tim’s podcast, I’ve bought his books; I know he “means” well. But does he really think someone who has lost all joy in life and is just wishing they no longer existed can just “think positive” and get themselves out of it?

What about people who haven’t been diagnosed with depression? How many people who don’t struggle with anxious or depressive disorders have a hard time moving forward in their lives? So, if “normal” people can’t seem to climb out of a habituated hole, do you really think someone who may carry a genetic predisposition, and perhaps trauma, and has probably worn a neurological rut in their brain can just “think different?”

When you carry the shame of taking medication just to be able to get through the day, when you watch your life pass before you just wishing you could find the ability or desire to participate, when you’ve lost your adolescence or adulthood and carry the grief of what your depression has taken from your children, can you just “think positive?”

Does he think we haven’t tried and failed at that too? I wonder how he would talk to someone who just broke a bone. Instead of going to a doctor to get physical therapy or pain medication while you heal from a “fracture,” just think of it a “temporary bone partition” because semantics would make it all better.

In his effort to “help” people who struggle, he minimized and showed a painful lack of understanding of the difference between “the blues” and depression.

Oddly enough, if I dig through what he was “trying” to say versus the way he said it, there are several points that make sense and can be helpful at some point of recovery.

1. “Depression is just one phase of a natural biorhythm and thus both transient and needed…”

I’m pretty sure he meant to say “the blues” or just regular old sadness and not depression. Feeling “bummed out,” feeling grief after the end of a relationship or not getting a job you were vying for? Yeah, sadness is a part of life we all have to deal with. This “normal, needed cyclical biorhythm” is not depression.

2. “How you label determines how you feel.”

Semantics? So instead of calling it depression, let’s call it Unicorn Glitter Farts!
OK, OK, saying that might actually make you feel better, so point Ferriss.

And yes, I agree people can get stuck or use their depression as an excuse to not move forward. They can get comfortable in others taking care of them and not find the motivation to begin the climb to get out of the hole (even if that climb means going to bed for a day or two until the worst of the storm passes).

But if you’re in the depths of depression, you can’t see there’s a way out, you can’t see tomorrow and each minute that passes feels like an hour. The thought it will never end is debilitating. Yeah, at that point, I couldn’t give an eighth of a poo what you call it; it’s an incredibly miserable way to live.

3. Gratitude training.

(To be fair, he did say this could be helpful for pre- or mid-depression.)

Again, I agree it can be helpful; however, if a person isn’t even aware their negative thoughts affect the way they feel, I doubt this where to start. And considering the blog post was about suicide, it’s beyond minimizing to say, “Hey! Thinking about killing yourself? Try gratitude instead!”

How about we start with whatever it takes to keep that person alive, and not telling them all they have to do is “think positive” and be grateful?

The last thing someone who is struggling to stay alive needs is a lecture about things they’ve most likely already tried, and most likely already failed at.

People who are struggling need compassion; they need to know (hopefully by someone who’s lived it and come out the other side) that recovery is possible. Slowly, gently and without this Stewart Smalley, “gosh-darn-it-I-like-me” positive psychology nonsense.

Look, there’s room for all of Ferriss’ ideas, but he’s not talking about major depression. And people with mild depression tend not to attempt suicide. So let’s try to leave the judgment at the door. Let’s have some compassion and stop pathologizing normal human emotion into an illness.

Tim Ferriss and people with highly regarded platforms such as his need to be more responsible with their words because of their reach. Do I personally think depression might be over-diagnosed? Yes. But what about people who are correctly diagnosed? Telling someone who’s contemplating ending their life that:

1. What they’re experiencing is “normal” and will just go away, therefore they don’t need to seek help.

2. Telling them they need to call it something else, and when you do, you’ll stop wanting to harm yourself.

Or…

3. Telling them to be grateful and their pain will vanish…

… is irresponsible, cruel and dangerous.

All these things will do is make people feel, “if only they were stronger, if only they tried harder, if only they bought that new gratitude journal on Amazon,” they would be better. They might feel more shame, less worth, and worse yet, they may not seek treatment for their symptoms, thinking they can just white knuckle their way through an episode.

People with depression need to be able to talk about it. There needs to be more conversation about the difference between the normal peaks and valleys of emotions and a full-blown debilitating disorder. We need to stop blowing people off by telling them to just “think positive” and listen, give them a hug and let them know they’re safe with you.

No more judgment. No more stigma. More conversation. More compassion.

 Follow this journey on Oh My Anxiety

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What I Wish People Understood About 'High-Functioning' Depression


I have high-functioning depression and I have struggled with mental health issues most of my life. But when I finally gained the confidence to begin talking about it and telling others I had it, I was more often than not met with comments such as:

“Wow, I would never have known!”

This is part of the difficulty for people living with high-functioning depression, and often misunderstood or not believed.

I have chosen to talk about a few points I think are important for people to understand about my life with high-functioning depression:

1. Just because I’m smiling and laughing doesn’t mean I’m not struggling.

This is a big one I struggle with most days. I smile, laugh and even joke so I don’t worry or burden others. This gives the impression of being “better” but the majority of the time I am far from it. My mask has always been my safety blanket. It’s something I have used my entire life. However, I do find if someone truly takes the time to talk to me and ask me how I am feeling, I will open up. This is such an amazing feeling. It’s just a shame most don’t or won’t do this.

2. I am always exhausted.

I spoke about this with a friend not long ago — about how exhausting it is to live with any mental illness, full stop. If I tell people I am tired or even exhausted, I am nearly always met with “Oh, me too!” I shrug that off, but what I really want to say is: “You have absolutely no idea what it’s like to feel this exhausted every single second of every day.” I don’t mean it in a horrible way — it’s just one of those things I wish people understood a little more. I keep myself so busy so I don’t slip. I am so scared the dark thoughts will come back that I exhaust myself mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s why I am usually in bed every night by 9 p.m.

3. It’s isolating.

One thing I hate about depression — well most mental illnesses, actually — is they force you to isolate yourself. Part of this comes from the depression telling me not to go out, not to talk to anyone — why would I? They all hate me anyway — which in itself is completely debilitating. It annoys people, but it’s not something I enjoy doing. I literally sometimes have no choice. It feeds into the stigma surrounding mental health and makes me feel anxious at times.

4. It makes me seem like I am being deliberately difficult.

I have unfortunately come across this feeling from others close to me a few times. When you can’t make a decision or cancel something last minute, or can’t cope when plans change. So many times I have had people say: “Just deal with it!” “It’s not the end of the world.” “Why are you over-reacting?” What might seem like such a small thing to others is huge to me. I often have everything planned out in my head beforehand so it’s like a bomb going off in my head if something changes at the last moment. I panic! I wish I didn’t feel like this but I just can’t help it.

5. I often have no idea why my depression takes a turn for the worse.

Oh, the times I’ve been asked: “What’s the matter?” “Why are you feeling like this?” “What’s brought this on this time?” The times I’ve replied: “I have no bloody idea!”

And it’s true. Sometimes I can just wake up in the morning and feel different. Sad. Anxious. Stressed and moody. It doesn’t matter if I am doing everything I can to keep my mental health in control; it can all be undone by one (usually unknown) trigger and it all comes crashes down.

6. Getting support from loved ones is often the most important thing.

I have the most amazing, loyal, kind and loving husband. I am so grateful and blessed to have him, but high-functioning depression is difficult to understand. I can’t fault how he has been there for me the last few years when many partners would have walked away. He doesn’t often understand a lot of what I am going through, but he asks and he listens, which is so important. Unfortunately, though, there are others around who often don’t understand, so just ignore it or make assumptions. This is so painful for the person living with depression. A text is sometimes all it takes just to know you are wanted and loved. I completely understand it is difficult. I live with it and I barely understand it at times. But ask us. Let us know you are there. That will mean the absolute world, I promise you.

As I have said many times before, everyone’s experience with mental health issues is different, even if they have the same diagnosis. So I have chosen to focus on my experiences and my issues.

High-functioning depression is so difficult to live with. It’s a struggle to keep on fighting most days, but I will. Please don’t give up on people living with depression or any other mental illness for that matter. Show them support and love the way you would any physical illness.

Remember: many people are fighting battles we never know about. Be kind always.

Lots of love

Amy xx

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How My Mental Illness Makes Me a Walking Contradiction


I’m one of the nicest people you’ll meet. I don’t let color, race, gender, sexual orientation or anything influence my judgment on people and I get along with almost everyone. I advocate for people’s rights and will fight until the very end if I think there’s an injustice or someone has been treated unfairly. I’ll genuinely listen to your problems and I’ll move heaven and earth to help you find solutions to them. I hate seeing people — especially my children and loved ones — upset or in pain. I’ll do anything I can to make them happy again and always put them first. At work, I’m the smiley one. The one always cracking jokes, making people laugh and making light of most situations.

I’m also one of the nastiest people you’ll ever meet. I’ll actively listen to your problems and while I truly do genuinely care, I can also switch faces, spit venom in my words and turn everything you’ve told me against you just to insult you or hurt your feelings. I can make you feel like the worst person in the world if you hurt mine. I hate seeing my children and loved ones upset or hurt, but I can be the one to hurt them the most. They know they can come to me for anything, but walk on eggshells around me. I can turn into the exact thing I want to protect them from.

I can be extremely selfish, always wanting things my way and making life hell when they’re not. Yes, I’m always the one smiling at work, but I’m the angry and moody one at home. I can laugh and crack jokes but turn around and scream and cry in a rage all in the same minute.

I’m also one of the most positive and optimistic people you’ll ever meet. The sky is the limit and I’m always looking for ways to better myself and make the most of what I have in life. In the same day, I can be depressed, hopeless and want to end it all, imagining ways I can escape; whether that’s running away or dying, the thoughts are endless.

I love myself yet I’m my own worst enemy, always fighting off the intensity in my moods and self-destructive thoughts. I can be the one to keep everyone and everything together, but fall apart and crumble myself.

I’m a walking contraction but I’m not a bad person. My mental Illnesses make me think and do bad things, especially to those closest to me but most of all myself. The world needs to remember that individuals living with mental illness hurt themselves more than anyone. They are their own biggest critic and something as simple as daily small talk can be the hardest task in the world for them.

You’re probably reading this thinking “she’s crazy and unstable,” but I’m not. I am one of the friendliest, loyal and genuine people you’ll meet. I know when I’ve done wrong, I know when I’ve hurt people and I’ll always do what I can to repair it. But like others, I wear the many faces of mental illness — depression and anxiety. For every episode, down day, panic/rage attack I have, there is a different face and a different me. My mental illness and the faces that come with it don’t define me or anyone else battling the same struggles. Our strength and resilience define us. For every time my world and thoughts have crashed down around me, there are twice as many times I’ve gotten back up and rebuilt myself — always coming back stronger and more durable than the last.

And that’s how I want the world to see me — as the girl living with mental illness and killing it. As the girl who can crash and burn, but use it as her fuel to be and do better. As the girl who beat her struggles — not as the girl whose struggles and mental illness beat her.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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I Won't Apologize for Having Depression


For the last 20 plus years, I’ve been in the grips of major depressive disorder. Sometimes, my episodes are minor with only a mopey empty mood lasting a few weeks or a couple of months. Sometimes they are moderate with tears thrown in, sobs for no reason at all and lack of motivation to do anything. And then at times, they are major episodes where my anxiety comes into play, I experience self-loathing, psychotic breaks and in some cases, hospitalizations. And for the last 20 plus years, I have been apologizing for it all.

I apologize for everything. Most of the time it is nonchalantly, not even realizing I said anything until I’ve completed my plea. Then I gasp internally, Did I really say “I’m sorry” again?!

When my mood is low and depression has made itself quite comfy on a sofa in my head, my apologies usually start with my husband:

“I’m sorry I am like this again.”

“I’m sorry you have such a horrible person as a wife.”

“I’m sorry I can’t be happy.”

And now that my daughter is older,= — almost 11 — I will apologize next to her:

“I’m sorry you have such a horrible mommy.”

“I’m sorry I don’t want to play a game with you.”

“I’m sorry you are stuck with me.”

As my depressive funk continues, apologies will show up at work for a minor error on a drawing or for not remembering a small fact on a project.

I’ll apologize to friends for being “weird” or “sad.” I’ll apologize to my parents for putting them through this yet again.

With every apology, I sink deeper into self-sabotage. I tell myself I suck and nobody wants to be around me. I begin to hate myself and, at times, wonder why I am still alive. I ponder self-harm because I think I deserve the pain.

This is a vicious cycle that has only recently changed.

With over two decades worth of apologizing because of my depression and feeling hatred against myself, I have finally learned there is no need to say “I’m sorry” all the time. Therapy has taught me that. I will never know why it took me so long in therapy to feel this way — call it getting older, maybe — but I no longer feel the need to apologize for everything I think I am doing wrong, whether it be a mistake at work or some thought in my mind.

What helped with this epiphany was the birth of forgiveness, compassion and empathy for myself that I got with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. I realize I am worthy to be here, worthy of existence, worthy of love. I remember the loyalty and love I give to others and remind myself I should give the same to myself.

There are still days when I find myself excessively apologizing and days I will catch myself before I utter those words, “I’m sorry.” Some days it is harder to hold back the apologies, but I will. I will stop saying “I’m sorry” for something I do not have any control over like other disorders. I am not ashamed of who I am. I am a person, like any other human being and I make mistakes. But being diagnosed with depression isn’t a mistake requiring atonement.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via MistakeAnn.

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5 Ways You Can Support a Friend Struggling With Depression


When I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 15, I was lucky enough to have friends who supported me no matter what I was going through. They loved me when I didn’t love myself, and I will always be grateful to them for that. Navigating the uncharted and confusing territory of depression can make it hard to know the best way to support a friend who is struggling.

Here are a few lessons that may help you support your friend who is experiencing their darkest times:

1. Never dismiss or treat their illness as if it were a choice they made.

Depression is not a deliberate decision they chose to make. Offering advice such as “look on the bright side” and “think positively” might not recognize the mental illness as the illness that it is. Just like you wouldn’t choose to have the flu, you also wouldn’t want someone to tell you to just “stop being sick.” Your friend didn’t choose to have depression, and just like the flu, you can’t just “stop having it.”

2. Let them know they should not feel guilty for what might appear to be a lack of effort to maintain their friendship with you.

Depression isn’t personal and has nothing to do with your friendship. Let your friend know they should not feel guilty or selfish for what appears to be a lack of effort on their part in sustaining your relationship. Let them know that you understand it is not personal and that you know it is a result of their depression.

3. Continue to invite them out even when the answer is frequently no.

I think depressions worst symptom is that it can make you feel like you are alone in the world. The unfortunate paradox is, as much as your friend might feel alone, this feeling can often result in your friend pulling away and isolating themselves. Invite them out often, even if you expect the answer to be no. This is a vital component in letting your friend know that you haven’t forgotten about them and they are always welcomed and loved by you.

4. Be there for them.

Depression is not something that is easy to talk about or explain in a way that others can always understand. The depressed mind often has a hard time understanding itself, let alone trying to tell another person about it. One way you can help fight depression with your friend is by just being there for them. It doesn’t mean you are responsible for making them better, it’s just about being there, even if all you do is sit on the couch together and watch Netflix without saying a word to each other. It’s about being a source of comfort and unconditional love for them when they are experiencing their darkest times.

5. Don’t give up on them.

It may feel like you have lost your friend, but your friend is still there. During the depths of their depression is when they need you the most. Have faith that they will recover and won’t be struggling forever. Make sure they know you never gave up on them. It can be the greatest comfort and support you can give your friend.

It can be unbearably frustrating and heartbreaking to watch your friend change into a shell of who they once were, but don’t doubt for a single second that they are not still in there just waiting to come out and be themselves again. Even when it doesn’t seem like “being there” and not giving up on them is enough, believe me, it is. In fact, it may be more than “just enough” for them — it may be what saves their life.

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