Just so you know.
When you have depression, you wind up spending a lot of time talking about it.
And I'm not just talking about people like me who write for a living.
This isn't because you want to, it's because very often you find that you HAVE to, even if it's just to tell people what depression is NOT.
While our culture is becoming increasingly sensitive to mental health needs, we are far from perfect, and the stigma around depression and other mental illnesses is still very much there.
It's important that we talk about depression, and not just what it is.
It's just as important to discuss what depression is NOT.
Here are 6 such things:
1. What depression is NOT: being in a bad mood
Clinical depression is different than being grumpy or having a bad day.
You're human (if you are not, please DM me with stories of your alien life) and as such, you have as many emotions as Sephora has lipsticks.
That's a lot of emotions.
But your bad mood isn't depression. It's a feeling. That will pass.
Depression doesn't work that way.
2. What depression is NOT: feeling sad in response to bad news
If you receive bad news, like learning that the bagel place is out of everything bagels, it might make you feel sad or depressed.
Those feelings are different from clinical depression, which is a medical condition caused by the brain's inability to produce enough serotonin.
Yes, everything bagels are delicious and of course you get sad when you can't have one, but that sadness is not clinical depression.
3. What depression is NOT: just about lying around in bed all day
Depression looks different on different people, just like that one weird dress of your mom's that she made you wear to church the last time you visited.
For some people, clinical depression means lying in bed feeling unable to move.
Other people can put on a front, presenting as totally fine while inside they are struggling.
Mental illness seldom looks the same. Very often, it's totally invisible.
4. What depression is NOT: a fake illness
Just because a person with depression isn't running a fever or vomiting up their everything bagel (god, I want an everything bagel) that doesn't mean their illness isn't real.
A person with depression is not faking being sick or malingering. They've got a legitimate mental illness that often can have very real symptoms.
They need empathy, not distrust.
5. What depression is NOT: just a phase
Basically, every teenager goes through a phase of being insufferable, all slamming doors and demanding ten dollars and a ride to the mall.
It's not something someone grows out of, the way teenagers eventually become normal decent people.
You don't "get over" depression, you seek treatment and intervention.
6. What depression is NOT: a cry for attention
A depressed person is not looking for attention.
In fact, if they had their way, everyone would simply leave them alone.
A depressed person isn't being dramatic or needy, they are experiencing true mental strife and it has NOTHING to do with you at all.