The other night, my husband came home, commenting on a girl who didn’t show up at work on her first day, due to a flat tire. How difficult could it be to still turn up for work, he wondered.
I calmly stated that there’s no flat tire and that she won’t turn up tomorrow.
Next day she admitted she’s got personal issues and won’t be joining the team.
Now. You, like my husband, might think that I know something about the girl that you don’t. But that’s not the case.
What I heard reminded me of my fake reasons for not showing up for a party, back in the days. It reminded me of my old struggle that has a very well known name. Depression.
We don’t need to explain what depression is, but we must talk about a more significant issue.
What hurts more than suffering from depression is hiding it from everyone, so that we don’t get labelled or dismissed by being told to cheer up.
We can’t call our boss, giving the real reason for our sickness. We must choose between the flu or a flat tire. If we do manage to turn to work in this state, we can’t show the agony we’re in. We smile and do the small talk in the kitchen that sucks the life out of us.
If you can’t imagine what it feels like to hide like this, let me put it this way.
Hiding depression is like walking through the desert for weeks on, without water, food or hope and then having to smile when someone passes by instead of asking for help.
300 million people around the globe suffer from depression.1 800 000 of those people commit suicide each year. And here we are, still hiding.
Depression has no place in our lives if we want to be successful or accepted. We still ask, “How are you” only to accept “Fine” for an answer. We’re raised neither to ask that question out of genuine interest nor to answer it honestly.
We know depression exists, yet we choose to ignore it. We signed up for the ‘status quo’.
We placed depression into the basket of so many taboos that we created a long time ago. And which, unexplainable to me, we still honor in the modern era of the 21st century.
We label depression as something to be ashamed of that, when we raise it in a conversation, we make those happiness-obsessed individuals around us feel pretty uncomfortable.
This attitude creates a monster that those who suffer from depression, try to battle on top of already feeling exhausted. We can’t afford, mentally or socially, to share how we feel because by making those around us feel uncomfortable adds another burden to our suffering.
Would we know that the world is open mindned, we’d open up. And most probably, we’d find solutions together. But more often there are people only wanting to hear ‘happy and fine‘ so that they can feel good themselves.
It begs the question. How can we, as a modern society, still be so narrow-minded and closed-hearted to mental illness that so many of us struggle with?
How is it possible that we close our eyes to an epidemic that kills so many of us?
Is this kind? Is this the best we can do?
I’m inviting you to think hard about this because to live with this sh** is pretty darn hard. And hiding it all makes it harder beyond belief.
Here’s what we can do to change things around.
We should go back to the truth. The truth is nothing else than our own vulnerability.
When we allow others to share their vulnerability, we’re allowed to share our own. That’s how we connect with each other and become stronger because we are all finally heard and understood.
We all want happiness and we all suffer at times. Pain unites us and because of it, we’re capable of compassion.
Depression should not be an exception.
The same kindness we give to a mother who lost a child or a father who’s battling cancer, we can feel for those who suffer within their mind. After all, we’re not our bodies. We have our mind and body to look after. And we have each other to take care of. That is our real potential of humanity.
If you’re a boss, encourage your employee to open up about their inner battles. You might not just get a better employee but you might save a life.
If you’re a friend, call that friend who is “too blue” to be invited to your party.
If you’re a mother-in-law, call your daughter-in-law asking how she’s doing with the children, the house and looking after your son. She might share feelings, which you never knew of.
Depression must be heard and understood, instead of being judged or ignored. Perhaps we’d still have the inspirational Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, and Kate Spade with us, if we wanted to listen.
We’d have all our loved ones that turned themselves into the arms of death, feeling lonely, exhausted and unheard.