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To the Person Who Made a Meme Calling Depression Medication 'Sh*t'

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Firstly, I want to start off by making one thing clear: We get nowhere by using foul language and speaking in black and white, all or nothing views.

It’s important to keep an open mind, as you say in your meme, to other perspectives and opposing points of view. Thus, with all due respect, this is what I have to say to you about your meme.
Memes shows two photos. On the top is a picture of the woods. Text reads "This is an antidepressant." Bottom shows a picture of pill. Text reads: "This is shit."

I don’t know your credentials, and you don’t know mine. We don’t know each other’s stories and most likely will never even cross paths. If we do, I doubt we’ll make the connection and remember this time. So I ask that you please keep in mind perhaps my perspective is different than yours. Perhaps my story and what I’ve been through has shown me a different piece of this world than your story has shown you.

I do want to acknowledge you are partially correct — there’s a lot that being outdoors can help. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression. In some cases, and perhaps in yours, nature can help with a lot.

But then there are the other cases, and I write you this on their behalf. I write for the teenage girl who went for a run every morning and rode horses every week. I write for the cheerleader who plays softball and is an avid cyclist. I write this on behalf of all the people in the world who have depression and have tried exercise, have tried being in nature, have tried going outside — and it hasn’t worked. It hasn’t been enough. I write this on behalf of the people who have needed medication, and there’s no getting around that.

Nature is not an absolute, 100 percent cure for depression, and medications are not worthless.

Sometimes people just need medication. Sometimes they need Prozac, or Zoloft, or Abilify, or Seroquel, or Risperadal, or Cymbalta or Effexor. For those people no amount of running, being outside, sports or vitamin D would be enough. I plead with you, please, remember them.

Because you don’t know where they are. When they see your meme they might be about to pick up the phone and make that psychiatrist consult. Maybe your meme will make them pause. Maybe that’s what you were hoping. But maybe for them that pause doesn’t help. Maybe for them they pause and get trapped even further in the hole their depression has buried them in. Telling them it’s their fault. That if exercise doesn’t help, nothing else will and since exercise hasn’t helped they’re out of hope.

Depression is a disorder, and needs to be treated as such. Treat depression the same way you’d treat a stroke or an arrhythmia or heart failure. Treat it seriously. Would you ever tell someone with a heart condition not to take their medication? What about telling someone with asthma to stop using their inhaler? Would you tell someone with kidney failure not to show up for dialysis? Of course not. You might scoff at my questions and perhaps you find my redundancy ridiculous. But I want you to think about it for a moment. The brain is an organ. Just like the heart, or lungs or even kidneys. It’s a vital organ. You need it to survive. It’s important to make sure it’s functioning correctly.

The question I have for you is this: Why is depression an exception?

Of course someone with an arrhythmia needs to take their medication. Of course someone with a stroke should go to the hospital. Medical conditions require medical care. Depression is a medical condition, the same as any other. It has it’s own set of symptoms just like every other condition. But if you believe medical conditions require medical treatment, depression should not be an exception.

Your meme does not change my mind, and in all honesty I doubt my letter will change yours. You don’t know my story and I don’t know yours. Of course, medication isn’t the right choice for everyone. In some cases, being outside can help. So perhaps you can acknowledge that in some cases medications can help. Because, as you said, it is always important to keep your mind open.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a meme, image or sign you’ve seen shared online that struck a chord with you, for good or for bad. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 27, 2016
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