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Dear Farrah Gray, You Cannot Just 'Shake Off' Depression

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A photo of a tweet has been surfacing around the internet since January. It was posted by Farrah Gray, an entrepreneur and book author. He says many motivational things to people on his social media pages. So this article is not to bash him but to hopefully bring his attention to something he said that can be harmful to others.

His tweet reads: Somebody is in the hospital right now begging God for the opportunity you have. Don’t you dare go to bed depressed. Shake it off!

OK. I understand he wrote this to encourage others, but depression is not something you can “shake off.”

I think Mr. Gray may be unaware of the 350 million people around the world who have depression.

Depression is not just a sadness; it’s a mental illness. (Key word being “illness.”) Depression can become a serious health issue. Maybe he doesn’t know that in some, major depression is linked to heart disease. Maybe he doesn’t know many people who have depression have severe concentration problems that keep them from performing normal day-to-day activities. Many people who have depression can’t sleep at night.

Maybe he doesn’t know about all the depressed people who attempt suicide and that suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United states. I’m sure he also may not know that by the year 2030, depression may be the second highest medical disability. By the way, those are just some of depression’s risks. So it’s pretty detrimental to tell someone who is depressed to simply “shake it off.”

You can’t shake off an illness. Many people still need to wake up and realize mental illnesses are illnesses too. Depression is nothing to be taken lightly.

I don’t mean to call Mr. Gray insensitive. I just want him to understand depression is real and those who have it lay in hospital beds too. I should know because depression has put me in hospital bed. We must stop the stigma.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Originally published: July 14, 2016
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