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When People Assume You're 'Too Young' to Have Depression

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A couple of years ago, when I was about 20, I was at my yearly routine eye exam getting the usual test the eye technician does before you see the optician. The tech asked me what medications I was on. I couldn’t tell you what antidepressant I was on at the time, because I have been through every class of antidepressant out there, but I listed the one I was on currently. She asked me what I took the medication for so she could write it down, so I told her I take it for depression and anxiety. Her response was one that I think about often, that I wish I would have had some great come back for, but was left speechless.

“You’re too young to have depression!”

I shrugged it off in the moment and maybe gave her a little smirk, but I still think about that moment today, because that was when I realized the huge misconception surrounding mental illness. Now, there are a few things I would say to her because I am more comfortable speaking out about my mental illness.

I wish there was an age limit. I wish that clinical depression hasn’t been on my medical chart since I was 15, but it has. I wish depression would have waited until I was done with college, and all the exciting things that go along with it. But the thing is, depression doesn’t discriminate. Depression doesn’t care how old you are or how much life you have left. Sometimes it comes for a season and leaves, but for me it comes in waves.

I don’t think I will ever be “cured” of my depression — just able to manage it better.

The other thing I wish I would have told her were the facts, that depression doesn’t affect me because of a tragic event or a bad week. I need medication (as well as other therapies) to fix this, just like the treatment of any other illness or disease.

Although her comment took me off guard, and still sticks out in my mind, I’m grateful for it. It opened my eyes and made me realize how some people still think about mental illness. It pushed me to tell my story and not be afraid so that other people who are “too young” to have depression can speak out as well. If I can change the mind of just one person, I have done my job.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: February 7, 2017
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