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People Are Mad About the Adjective Dakota Johnson Used to Describe Her Depression

There are a lot of words people with depression use to describe their mental illness. Some classic ones might include “dark,” “exhausting,” “debilitating” and even “excruciating” — just to name a few.

But in a recent Marie Claire feature, “50 Shades of Gray” actress Dakota Johnson used an unexpected adjective to describe her depression: “beautiful.”

“I’ve struggled with depression since I was young—since I was 15 or 14. That was when, with the help of professionals, I was like, Oh, this is a thing I can fall into. But I’ve learned to find it beautiful because I feel the world,” she told Marie Claire.

Backlash on social media was swift, and social media users who live with depression were not happy about her characterization.

While Johnson meant no harm by her comments and was likely trying to say her struggles with depression have given her a “beautiful” capacity to feel (as opposed to saying depression itself is beautiful), it’s not surprising her comment stirred up frustration in folks who live with depression.

The reality is, depression is serious. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, and depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Johnson has the right to describe her personal experience with depression however she chooses, but it’s worth being aware of the fact that folks in the mental health community are tired of people romanticizing mental illness and not taking their struggles seriously. This is something Mighty contributor Erica Chau touched on her article, “Please Stop Romanticizing Depression“:

There is nothing romantic about my depression. It’s not the kissing of scars. It’s not holding me while I cry. It’s not any of the posts that you on Tumblr or in movies. It’s not beautiful. It’s not delicate or dainty. It’s not the hero saving the damsel.

To me, depression is not romantic. Depression is pain. And it’s numbness. And it’s at the same time. Depression is an illness and it can be chronic and long-lasting and it’s not something a kiss on the forehead can fix.

What are your thoughts on Dakota Johnson’s comments about depression? Let us know in the comments below.

Header image via Wikimedia Commons