Irse y quedarse

Picture © Kasia Derwinska

Anyone who has experienced an episode of depression and even more, the major depression, knows that it often entails the loss of friends, family, affection, work, etc. In a social context where everything must be cool and good vibe, we are considered “Toxic People”. It is clear that the symptoms do not transmit good vibes. The first thing is that you suffer. But dysphoria is seen as poisonous, and depression as a kind of flu that can spread. “You’re negative“, we are told and nobody wants to be close to your negativity.

To a large extent, social rejection, loss of friends and/or some desire to distance generates depression due to the prejudices and misconceptions that exist around this disorder. Basically, the idea is that depression is a matter of attitude. For example, when you worse you are, you should listen to tell you:

  • “Be positive”.
  • “You have to put more of you.”
  • “Do not be pessimistic”.
  • “With that attitude you are not going anywhere.”

In short, if you have a depression is largely by your own fault. It is difficult to know why this happens. Obviously, no one is accused of being responsible for fever or diarrhea for his attitude. A physical illnesses do not affect this prejudice. Okay, mental disorders are not diseases. But in other mental disorders not responsible for their symptoms to those who suffer. It blames not the person or at least is not usual to happen, when it has an outbreak or a manic episode. Conversely, depression is not your fault.

This aberrant idea not only appears on those who do not know anything about the subject and/or only listen stereotypes that spread from the media. This particular prejudice survives not only as a matter of ignorance. The professionals of mental health also feed it.

The experience that impressed me at the time and still do, I lived the first day I entered as a user in a Mental Health Center. At that time I was undone, no energy, no desire to live or strength to move forward. I did not know how to cope with the weight of my existence. Imagine find you well and see your Mental Health Center a sign of self-help advice that began: “Be positive“. Be positive!!! That is more or less the same as saying: “Do not be depressed“. As useless as to say: “do not have tumors“, for a person with cancer, “be alive” in case of heart attack or “do not hallucinate” for a person with schizophrenia. In addition to useless as advice, this proposal adds difficulty to make you feel better about yourself by suffering depression.

Moreover, stereotypes rooted in a society are so strong that support the most absurd contradictions. Because prejudices do not understand the logic. And depression precisely gives one of these nonsense.

Thus, on the one hand, the solution to depression as a matter of will arises, it is assumed that to heal you have to want to improve. In short, you require will and desire. But at the same time, you say the apathy and anhedonia are basic defining depression symptoms. It requires from you, what you lack, something that you lack: will and desire. So much trouble in understanding that lack of motivation or illusions, pessimism, exhaustion, etc., are not defects of the person or weakness of character, but symptoms of a disease?

  • “You would be better if you would like to.”
  • “You don´t recover because you don´t want”.
  • “Being negative will never get you better.”

All these ways to tell it are offensive. Besides making you feel guilty, they make you notice how it annoys or displeases the way how you are, that you should behave or be in a different way. In fact, there are those who behave as if you stunk. The farther, the better.

I understand that sometimes they want to encourage the frustration generated by seeing someone suffering, not knowing what to do can lead to these comments. From the experience of having heard them, I can say that this only generates more discomfort. No one suffers because he wants to suffer. If a person goes through estimates an episode of depression, just let them know you’re there, you hear it if they need to talk, make them feel that they are not loosing you. For those who are undone, sometimes your understanding is the best solution.

Hernán Sampietro