“You just need to buck up.”
“Get over it.”
You’ve heard at least one of these clichés in your life during times of strife and discourse.
Situationally, these cliches can hurt in the moment regardless of the problem weighing you down. Whether it’s trouble in a personal relationship, career trajectory, grief or even just the simple “bad day,” we all hurt. Due to the melancholy surrounding you during these times, people just want you to “get over it.”
And you do.
Life goes on. You work out the personal relationship, change career paths, get through the grieving process and rebound from that one bad day. However, for people with clinical depression, these everyday challenges can become substantially more difficult to overcome because their mind actively fights to maintain the low and continue the pessimistic view.
I know this because I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 11, but I can think back to feeling different and unhappy during preschool.
Depression is a universal trait that any living thing can succumb to. Many people experience tough times leading to situational depression, which can be worked out over time. Eventually, they get over the issue and move forward. Clinical depression comes from hereditary genetics, but doesn’t fully manifest itself unless a trauma occurs, usually during childhood or adolescence.
My trauma isn’t abuse or a bad family life, I’ve lived a comfortable life and my parents have been incredibly supportive of my endeavors.
My trauma was knowing I was different compared to my peers as early as five years old. That feeling of isolation and alienation that sets in when you aren’t like every other five year old and teachers don’t think you’re “normal” because you aren’t mindlessly enjoying being a kid can be quite detrimental to your self-esteem and self-worth.
It creates a chemical imbalance in your brain that makes you attracted to negativity, sarcasm, cynicism and skepticism. Additionally, it pushes your view to focus on the negative and take less light of the positive subconsciously. It also leaves you susceptible to falling into feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth, low self esteem, sadness and suicidal thoughts due to the inability to see things getting better. But, it blesses you with a unique and enigmatic perspective. It grounds you in reality and strengthens your analytical view, insights, critical thinking and makes you challenge what constitutes “normal.”
While everyday challenges can become more difficult due to the chemical imbalance and pessimistic-leaning perspective, it can be managed. When controlled, mental illness fosters great creativity and other desirable traits.
With that, I want to bring you into the mind of the clinically depressed.
I want to help eliminate the stigma surrounding it and show with proper therapy, medication and coping skills how a unique perspective to challenge the world can be a blessing. I’m not saying I speak completely for everyone afflicted, but, I hope with a combination of perspective writing, poetry, short fiction and reflections I can improve understanding and showcase the different thought processes and viewpoints someone with clinical depression has to the everyday interactions of life while also expressing my joys, hopes, frustrations and fears with the world authentically. Hopefully, my writing shows others afflicted with clinical depression and other mental illnesses that they aren’t alone and there are people who feel the same way they do and have been there before.
Who I am has a lot to do with how my perspective differs from many due to clinical depression, essentially it’s an identifying trait that dually curses and blesses me.
The truth is, normalcy is all in perspective and it’s time to let you into our “normal.”
I’ll also touch on stigma and viewpoint of mental illness as a whole to demystify and improve understanding towards mental illness. Clinical depression is not “being sad,” it’s a unique perspective that happens to lean towards pessimism. When untreated, it can become overwhelming and destructive, but when monitored and treated, the depressed change and challenge our world.
If I still feel like I can’t comfortably circle on a job application that I have a mental illness or can’t openly admit to having a mental illness without fear of stigma, or even worse—pity, than despite the growing understanding and acceptance of depression and other mental illnesses, there’s still work to be done.