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24 Things People Assume About You When You Live With Depression

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The fact that depression affects everyone differently might seem obvious if you live with it. I mean, people who live with depression are still people, after all, and just like it’s cruel to stereotype someone based on their gender, race or sexuality, we shouldn’t make similar assumptions about people who live with depression.

But unfortunelty, it happens. When people hear you have depression, they might assume they know something about you. Too often, even our mental health system throws people in boxes based on their diagnosis, forgetting that behind the label is a unique person with individual needs and experiences. At the end of the day, there’s no one kind of person who gets depression, and we can’t forget to treat people like people when we’re supporting them.

To bust some stereotypes, we asked people in our mental health community to share one thing people assume about them because they live with depression.

Here’s what they told us:

  1. “People assume I’m just lazy. It actually kind of hurts because I’m not necessarily lazy, I want to get stuff done, but when I think about all that needs to be done, I get overwhelmed and kind of internally freak out.” — Summer W.
  2. “That if I have depression I should feel depressed all the time or that my depression should look like what others experience during depressive states. I have ‘high-functioning depression‘ so while I may be very depressed, I’m still going to be going about my daily routine because I know I can’t afford to not be going to work or going to school. Others think that if I’m depressed I should be stuck in bed, unable to do anything while in reality, when I’m depressed I am still doing things — they’re just far from the best of my ability.” — Kira M.
  3. “That ‘sad’ is all you feel. That’s not the biggest part of depression. Depression does mean you’re just sad all the time. It’s more than that. It’s an emotion that’s sometimes unexplainable. It’s feeling guilty and down and like a mess and not knowing what you’re feeling. It’s not simply just ‘sad and no interest in life.’ I have so much interest in life and the things I love, just sometimes the depression takes away my focus and I feel guilty for something I don’t even know what about. It’s just more than simply ‘sad.’” — Hailey M.
  4. “That I’m just feeling sorry for myself, and there’s nothing wrong with me. ‘Snap out of it, lots of people have it worse than you do.’ (Whatever ‘it’ is.) Like there’s a competition.” — Laura P.
  5. “When I take medicine for it I’m ‘OK now’ or ‘better now.’ The truth is, it never really works. When I’m around people, I often try to present a fake version of who I really am. I mean, most people would rather be around Tigger than Eeyore, right?” — Christa O.
  6. “That my depression comes before my kids.. They would be amazed if they could get their heads out of their butts to see I’m actually fighting it when my kids are around so my kids don’t grow up thinking they came second.” — Korena D.
  7. “That I’m depressing all the time and that’s all I want to talk about. That was like a knife through the chest. I reached out to someone I considered close and that was the response. I was having a tough time with my mom and to hear that from a ‘friend’ blew my mind.” —  Lindsay G.
  8. “I’m lazy, seeking attention or that I’m throwing an over-dramatic pity party for myself 24/7. I’ve also been told recently that, ‘Everyone goes through depression at least once in their life, it’s not the end of the world. You’re so young, you will look back on this when you’re older and laugh at how silly you’re being.’ As someone with chronic depression, I don’t think I’ll ever look back and laugh at how I forced myself out of bed every day for years, felt sick to my stomach during the days the depression took over my mind, fought the urges to self-harm, fought the passive suicidal thoughts, stayed up all night alone with my thoughts, tried to cry but I was too numb to feel anything, get really excited about finally enjoying something only to no longer enjoy it a few weeks later… the list goes on and none of that seems funny to me. And I think the worst of it all is, there isn’t a reason I’m feeling this way, it just happens and I can’t control it or stop it.” — — Ashley C.
  9. “That I’m just looking for attention because ‘my life isn’t that hard.’ My dad was abused and neglected as a child, and when I tried to talk to him about my depression after I brought home a script for an antidepressant, he took it personally and got offended by it like I was claiming he caused it (I never did). Then he claimed I couldn’t be depressed because he had it worse as a kid and some people have it worse than me. I just learned to hide my depression from him. I confide in my mom and boyfriend instead now.” — Brittany C.
  10. “People assume I have a negative mindset towards life and that I don’t want to live. They don’t realize I fight to live every day. Positive thinking helps a little, but it’s not a cure for someone who struggles with clinical depression.” — Kaitlyn M.
  11. “People assume I’m not allowed to be happy or I’m not allowed to laugh and smile. They assume all I do is lie in bed all day. They assume I can’t do anything on my own or that I’m basically a useless potato. In reality I was very high-functioning. I could do everything I wanted or needed to do. I could get ready for the day and look nice. I could be happy. I could go to school like a normal teenager. It never really stopped me!” — Alyssa B.
  12.  “That I can’t be successful at my job. I work at a child care center and when people find out that I also have a mental illness I usually get responses like, ‘People trust you with their kids?’ or ‘Are you sure that’s the right job for someone with a mental illness?’ In reality, the kids I work with make living with a mental illness so much easier.” — Ashleigh T.
  13. “People start assuming it’s because of them and it sucks. They try to find a reason or something or someone to blame. But really, most of the time there is no reason or anyone to blame. Things trigger it more, some things make it worse. But no, sometimes it’s just me and you just can’t do anything about it.” — Gloricaa K.
  14. People assume that I cry for the sake of it. When in fact, I cry when I’ve tried for so long to not fall apart. When someone says something slightly wrong or I do something wrong, I just end up crying my eyes out. Like my battle in my head has overrun me once again.” — Becky E.
  15. “They believe I choose to be depressed. That I choose it over being close with my family. They believe I am disinterested in their lives — but I’m not! I’m just unable to initiate, unable to get past my own stuff in the moment to be the carrier of the relationship that they demand. So now there’s nothing. And thus starts that cycle… I would love to but can’t, they don’t, I’m hurt, they don’t seem to mind, no one does anything.” — Kathi F.
  16. “Sometimes I’m told that it’s all in my head and I’m making it all up. They don’t understand the constant hiding behind a smile or the physical pain that depression causes. One person even told me if I’d cry, I’d probably feel better.” — Ashley B.
  17.  “That I should be carrying a literal dark cloud over my head and a neon sign announcing I’m depressed because I don’t look like it. And that meditation, yoga and exercise are the solution to all my problems but I’m too lazy and so my problem isn’t depression, it’s my laziness.” — Muskan V.
  18. “That everything I do is because of  my depression. Oh, you’re taking a nap, you must be depressed… No. I just a long day. Oh, you’re not eating, you must be depressed… No. I had a big lunch. Any sort of cuts I get on my arms people assume are due to self-harm, when usually they’re caused by walking into blackberry bushes. I wish people didn’t just assume everything I do is because I have depression.” — Abby L.
  19. “That I’m anti-social or rude. Sometimes I just like to stay in and recoup. Or I won’t talk to anyone for days at a time then I will eventually get back into the cycle of things.” — Mozzo J.
  20. “That anytime I smile or laugh, I’m automatically ‘getting better.’ Just because I laugh nervously or smile out of habit doesn’t mean my depression is any less real or fading suddenly.” — Nina G.
  21. “They assume I’m lazy and just want things served on a silver plate. They assume I don’t try hard enough to see things on the bright side.” — Ina K.
  22. “They assume because I have a good day, then I must miraculously be cured! Nope. I still struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s still there.” — Vicki T.
  23. “They assume I’m faking it because they only see me on the OK days, They don’t see the days when I’m in bed all day or when my dishes are stacked in the sink because I can’t bring myself to do them or when taking a shower is like thinking I have to lift a thousand pounds or when I have crying fits and can’t stop so I beat myself up emotionally from the guilt and despair. They see pictures of me and can’t see the horrible things I see when I look at them. They only see the outside when I’m terrified and dying on the inside.” — Christopher C.
  24. “That I’m depressed because I’m fat, and that’s part of the reason why I’m seen as a lazy person. I was depressed before I gained the extra weight. I was always a few sizes bigger than others and worsening depression and mood issues as I got older lead to more weight gain — but it’s not ‘why’ I’m depressed.” — Cherry R.

What would you add?

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Originally published: August 15, 2018
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