depression stereotypes

Depression: Beware the Stereotype

Over the course of one week, I learned of two individuals who took their own lives. Both were successful people, according to cultural standards. One a lawyer, the other a business professional, both were married with children and both enjoyed the admiration of their respective communities. People would argue that these two "just didn't seem the type."

Yeah. See that's the thing. There is no type. Depression doesn't care one bit who you are or what you do.

Depression creeps in and lies to you about your value as a human.

  • "You're just an imposter. One day, people will find out that you are really just not that bright."
  • "You can't keep faking it forever. Eventually, people will figure out that you are a mental case and they will stop loving you."
  • "Your family thinks you are loveable, but they are wrong. You're not."
  • "They'd totally be better off without you."

Depression doesn't shy away from professionals who have been trained to recognize its deception. It gives no exemptions to the social worker, minister, therapist, physician, or life coach. Its lies are raw and uncensored.

  • "The advice you give may work for other people, but you are beyond help."
  • "Keep telling people how to treat mental illness if you want; that won't fix you."
  • "Look at you with your great treatment plans and therapeutic compassion! How cute. If they only knew what I know about you, they'd be laughing in your face right now."
  • "Other people can get better. That's because they are better people than you are. You are not as valuable as they are. You're just not."
  • "All your clients, parishioners, or patients? They can find a much better advocate than you. You cannot even keep your own self sane."
  • "They'd totally be better off without you."

Look, I don't know the answers. I just know that depression doesn't care if you are red or yellow, black or white. It doesn't care about your bank account, your social standing, your dress size, or your IQ. Depression is about as selective as cancer is: cancer doesn't sort through a list of traits and accomplishments in order to determine who will be afflicted; depression doesn't either.

I don't know why depression kills some people and lets others--like me--live. There is no equation, no formula, that I've found that makes sense. Until that answer is found, though, let's talk about mental health in a way that promotes understanding, not judgment. Let's refrain from oversimplifying complex questions with uninformed responses that just come off trite, dismissive, or even downright mean. Of course we don't know everything about mental illness, but we know this: when depression ends in suicide, it's a tragedy of inconsolable proportions. Even the most enlightened comments will rarely be welcome in the midst of such devastation. So let's just keep our mouths closed and our hearts open. Because nobody is the type to get depressed. And so is everybody.

 

About the Author Aileen Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.

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