Andy Richter Offers Sassy (and Heartfelt) Response to This Common Depression Myth

Comedian Andy Richter, best known as Conan O’Brien’s late night “sidekick,” took a break from tweeting jokes on Friday to respond to a Twitter user who said, “Depression is a choice.”

Richter tweeted, “Oh really? Well ‘go fuck yourself’ is a directive.” He then followed up his original tweet 30 minutes later with a heartfelt tweet storm about how depression affects his life.

“I have been followed by an ever-present amorphous sadness for almost my entire life,” he wrote. “I am 51 yrs old. It varies in strength from a casual unresolvable suspicion that I will never find the joy that others do in a sunset, to the feeling that being dead might a respite & a kindness.”

He said he’s been taking medication for decades, and that even though he has a successful career and a loving family, “I will still reach the end of my life having walked through most of it with an emotional limp.”

“Depression is a choice,” he said, really means, “Your pain is your fault,” and “You can overcome this if you just try hard enough,” means, “Your pain is making me uncomfortable. Please shut up.”

Unfortunately, it’s not so uncommon for people to imply that “depression is a choice.” In her piece about the topic, Mighty contributor Odawni Palmer said that saying “depression is a choice” can be especially damaging for people with depression who already think their depression is their fault. She wrote: 

Because it’s an invisible illness, people who silently live with depression tend to self-stigmatize. Why can’t I just get over this? It’s been weeks. Why am I not strong enough to pull myself out of this? What’s wrong with me?! Thoughts like these circle my mind seemingly endlessly, and the negative thinking keeps the wheel of depression spinning.

Richter ended his with a message for people who “don’t get” depression: “If you are unburdened by depression, real true depression, count yourself lucky. Keep your quick fixes to yourself. This is the kind of bullshit that kills people. Learn, then speak. Or just be lucky and quiet.”

Celebrities like Lena Dunham and Josh Groban showed Richter their support.

Have you ever been told that “depression is a choice?” Our community members offered ways to combat comments like that in this post.

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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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