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Please Stop Romanticizing Depression

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Girl is sad. Girl meets boy. Girl is sick. Her depression kicks in and has panic attacks and lashes out and the confused boy leaves, confirming her anxious thoughts that “she isn’t good enough” and that “everybody leaves.” But by some miracle, Boy realizes what it is. Boy finds Girl. Boy tells Girl he loves her and suddenly, she’s happy and cured. The power of love!

But for most of us with mental illness, this is not the case. I’m lucky enough to have found someone who is so understanding and so patient with my depression and chronic anxiety. He doesn’t get annoyed when I text incessantly and he lets me have my space but still takes care of me and knows when I’m lying on the bed, unresponsive, staring at the ceiling, I’m still me. I’m just filled with nothingness.

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.

I’m not denying love and support do not play a role. They definitely do, but depression is a mental illness. And as much as we may want to, we can’t always “love” a person back to health.

To me, depression isn’t the romantic things you see in movies. Depression is not being able to get out of bed for four days. Depression is not showering for a week. Depression is living in a room full of empty water bottles and half eaten bags of chips because you can barely get yourself out of bed, let alone cook a meal.

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people and it’s not something “the one” can fix by holding your hand. Stop romanticizing depression and instead, help us get real help. Bring us water. Get us into the bath. Make sure we eat something with nutritional value.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via weerachonoat.

Originally published: March 23, 2017
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