DISCLAIMER: In no way am I dissing the work medical professionals do. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work they all do. But, sometimes when someone does something wrong, in any field of work, they need to be called out for it.
“You’re just being soft.”
“You overthink too much.”
“You have nothing to be depressed about.”
I recently saw a thread on Twitter by @hatttiegladwell asking people to share the most insensitive thing someone has ever said about their mental illness and I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of people that had something to share. I was angry. I was disgusted. How can people say this to someone suffering? How can people be so cruel?
A girl posted that her boyfriend said to her “dating you was like having a second job because of your depression.” Imagine being that insignificant to someone that they feel like it’s a chore to look after you?
I was angry when I saw that because I’ve felt like that before. When I was first diagnosed, a lot of people in my life didn’t understand mental illnesses because they couldn’t see it. A lot of them didn’t think mental illness was a real thing because they’d never seen someone completely break down. I can’t blame them for that, but I could blame them for being so naive that me having a severe panic attack was just “having a sook.”
I kept scrolling through the twitter feed and people mentioned their parents, their friends, their teachers. It was horrible, but I was completely shaken when I saw people mention things their doctors and therapists had said. One man commented saying that his therapist asked “why do you deserve special treatment, you’re not the only one unemployed?” These people study for 4-7 years to be qualified in the medical field. To help us, to save our lives and yet some moron who we spend hundreds of dollars a session to see, slip through the cracks and get away with making people feel like crap for something they can’t control. It sickened me.
I didn’t realise how common it was and how many people I could relate to.
I was diagnosed with depression twice.
Why? Because the first doctor I saw was another moron. I was petrified sitting in that doctors office because it was the first time in my life I had acknowledged I had a problem. It was hard. I was in tears petrified for how my life was going to change.
After a very brief conversation of me telling her what my issues are, talking about how I’m unemployed and unsure of where I’m going in life, she stopped me mid sentence and told me to jump on the scales. I was in tears, shaking and I was made to weigh myself. Listening to the “professional” I took my shoes off and jumped on the scales and saw a number I didn’t really want to see. I jumped off the scales and she said to me, “the reason you’re depressed is because you’re not skinny. If you lost 15-20kg I know you’d feel better about yourself and be happy.”
I just want to clarify, I was depressed because not only did it run in my family but I was trying to deal with being in my first of university in a course I was unsure about, unemployment, hating my life at the time and being the only single one out of my friends. I had no one to turn to. I felt lonely. I wasn’t depressed because I was fat. I had my insecurities and yes, sometimes they did trigger anxiety and mild depression, they still do. But, that wasn’t the soul reason for why I’m depressed. And even if it was, a doctor, who should know better, cannot assume that by the number on the scales.
She fat shamed me. She made me feel like nothing when I was already so vulnerable. I was telling her how terrified I was for my future but she disregarded all of that to tell me I was fat. And her result? To put me on medication because “it’ll make you get over it faster.” And she sent me on my way.
Insensitivity and ignorance are the two worst things you can give to someone with a mental illness. I confided in medical help because it was the right thing to do and it made me feel ten times worse. It took me 12 months to see another doctor because I was scared. I still am. Even just to go when I have a sore throat. I get an overwhelming amount of anxiety.
That was three years ago.
I didn’t take the medication. I refused to believe that’s why I was depressed. I know myself well enough. The second doctor listened to me. He gave me valuable advice that I will forever take with me. He allowed me to work hard, change my life and after all of that, I found a happier me. And guess what? I still weigh the f*cking same. (I don’t know if that’s a good thing but McDonald’s is really yummy okay?)
So if you’re someone who knows people dealing with mental illness, please remember a few things.
Being harsh to someone with an illness is the worst thing you can do. It is not your right to tell someone how to act or to tell them not to feel a certain way. It’s okay if you can’t help them the way they need you to, but it’s not okay to tell them they’re a nuisance. If you don’t know what to say to someone, just don’t say anything. Let them talk and reassure them they’re loved and cared about.
They cannot control how they’re feeling. They need support.
Don’t be a shit person.
And for anyone who is suffering, “there’s bravery in being soft.”