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Just Because I'm Busy Doesn't Mean I'm Not Depressed

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Over and over again, I’ve heard people in my life offer this (unsolicited) advice when they hear about someone who has depression: Being “busy makes depression go away.” Or, being busy “minimizes” depression or suicidal thoughts because your mind is sent elsewhere. 

I’m here to say: It’s just not that simple.

People can be the busiest, have “happy go lucky” personalities, and still suffer depression and suicidal thoughts, which is why many wonder when people die from suicide, “How? There weren’t any signs.”

Working and being busy does not mean depression is cured, and sometimes only slightly helps people who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts.

When we’re talking about the type of depression I am talking about (which I hate doing, but sadly I have to do this to make it clear), I am going to quote a movie I personally love that was based off the play “Bang Bang You’re Dead“: “I don’t mean depressed like your dog died. I mean where you feel like you’ve got nothing to lose where you don’t, you don’t care if you live or die. That kinda of depressed. You ever been there?”

The following character answers, “No.” Depression is different than what some people think — especially those who relate temporary, heartbreaking sadness with the mental illness of depression (which, of course, is also as valid in its own way, I would like to add).

This is where I stress keeping busy does not cure and doesn’t always minimize depression when it comes to mental illness.

Might it help some to navigate these bad tendencies or thoughts temporarily? Does it help when the mind is kept busy throughout the day with something they love?

Yes. Being busy can help people find some meaning in their lives. In can be a partial or a large step in their journey.

But this is not true for everybody, neither is it 100 percent effective. People with depression can be good actors. They can look busy, but still get attacked by their own thoughts when they’re alone.

People who are simply kept busy 24/7 when they have depression actually might make the depression a tad bit worse, even if they aren’t doing anything that would make others worry.  If anything, keeping busy just to keep busy can be used to push away the real issue at hand.

It took me years to finally get help, despite being “busy” and occupied with school and friends and being constantly tired and even satisfied by doing something I loved. Still, I had my mental health to deal with. 

Please don’t be scared to reach out for the help you need, and please don’t ignore your needs by staying “busy.” Yes, it’s hard and scary, but people need people.

Trust me.

Originally published: June 21, 2016
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