‘Right to be depressed’

Welcome to my new series of ‘Shit depressed people have to hear’! This may be something I have read online while talking to other depressed people, or something I may have countered myself in real life.

The common denominator is that this is never a one-off. I have seen or heard this enough times that it has bothered me to the extent that I felt like I had to say something about it.

In part number one we are looking at the expression ‘right to be depressed.’

Right, this is a sentiment that really boils my piss. Whether or not someone has ‘the right’ to be depressed. Like we are discussing the fucking ethics here. The lovely thing about this sentiment is that you hear it across the board: both from the mouths of depressed and not-depressed people.

The depressed people say they have no right to be depressed because they are not crawling for their lives in a thorn-filled field with two broken legs and a missing arm as a pack of veracious wolves that has joined forces with rabies-infected bears chases after them.

The not-depressed people on the other hand say that depressed people are basically selfish for feeling depressed, as if it was a choice to begin with. Like when you were a kid and you refused to finish your dinner and you’d get told that there are millions of children in the world dying of starvation and you’d better be grateful.

“I feel like I’ve got no right to be depressed…”

“You have no right to be depressed….”

At this point I’d like to congratulate everyone from the both sides of the fence, because you are just as fucking annoying as each other. Finally, something in common!

Depression is an illness. AN ILLNESS. Tuberculosis is an illness. Cholera is an illness. Cancer is an illness. Have you ever, EVER, heard anyone say that they have no right to have cancer, as there are so many people in the world who are doing oh-so-much-worse than them?

Neither have I heard anyone say: “Fuck me, life is just too good. Wish I had cancer.”

In the same spirit, never have I heard anyone utter the words “oh boy, wish I had a debilitating mental illness.”

So, what’s the difference?

Oh yeah, because you can’t see the latter. There is no tumour, no cast, no bandage or lesion that would show even the thickest individual that everything isn’t exactly peachy over here. When an illness is inside your head and nobody else can see it, it’s incredibly difficult to express to others what you’re going through.

I know that this may be difficult to someone who has never experienced mental illness either themselves or within their inner circle, but here’s a beginner’s tip: Suggesting that an illness is something that the person has chosen to have isn’t exactly the best starting point.

I think one problem is the usage of the expression ‘feeling depressed’ in everyday language. When someone has a bit of an off-day, while not suffering from depression, are ‘feeling depressed.’ I may be completely wrong, but maybe this creates this entanglement in someone’s mind that when someone is feeling depressed, they might be referring to that?

I’m trying my best to understand but it’s proving difficult. It’s that fucking stupid.

Also, as a side note, depressed people in general feel like a burden to others anyway. How do you think they are going to feel if you start having a fucking ~ moment of morale ~ about whether they have chosen the state that they’re in?

Fuck me.

To put it simply: At its very worst, depression is a terminal illness, just like cancer. The only difference is that once this person succumbs to their illness, they oftentimes take their own lives. Different means, the same shit outcome.

Listen, I know it’s difficult. Depressed people are at times a fucking infuriating bunch to deal with. I should know, I’m one of them. I can understand just how scary and frustrating it must be when someone you love is clearly in turmoil and there is seemingly nothing you can offer them. They might push you away, they might isolate themselves, their views about themselves, others and life in general can be so distorted that talking to them can be such a difficult task. At least if they had a broken arm you could offer to carry the shopping.

You can still do that, you know. Or not even that, just listen. Ask how they are, how they really are, and if they tell you, just listen. Depression is never an excuse to treat others badly but if you’re aware that there is an illness which is fucking around inside their head, it might make it a little less personal.

Nobody, NOBODY, chooses to be ill. I’d give everything to be healthy again. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to get the last eighteen months of my life back. However, this isn’t possible because I got seriously ill, and all I can do is try to get better. One day at a time.

Genetics may have played a part in my case. Both my parents have suffered from depression. I had some shitty things happen to me, that I didn’t face up to for a really long time. Maybe that triggered it. In the months leading up to my lowest point I was under intense pressure to perform well from both myself and others. Maybe that was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I don’t think I’ll ever know. One thing is for sure though. I didn’t just wake up one morning and think ‘you know what, my life is just TOO GOOD. Oh I know, I’ll give depression a go.’

It just doesn’t happen.

But for anyone who still thinks that being depressed is somehow their fault, I would like to share something that my Mum said to me after I apologised to her following my suicide attempt.

“Why are you sorry?” she asked.

“Because you and and dad gave me such a great life and I tried to take it away. I’ve got so much to be grateful for, I’ve got everything. I’ve got a wonderful family, friends who love me and a great job. I have an amazing life, and I still did this.”

“None of those things matter when you’re ill.”

It’s true.


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