Society has developed some seriously bad attitudes toward mental illness. It’s no surprise. We see it attached to the stigma of it. We’re treated like lepers, as if this were a terribly contagious thing.
Depression is no exception. Today, a lot of people have been discussing the topic of the “Just Snap Out of It” phenomenon that occurs out there. Honestly, there is a saying out there about how if a person hasn’t experienced it, then they can never truly know. A person who hasn’t experienced clinical depression, either in the form of MDD or BP depression can never truly know it’s depth and breadth. It is an all encompassing monster that claims every last bit of life and any possible joy that can come from it.
Having Bipolar Disorder, I am a person who naturally experiences some sometimes pretty obvious mood swings. And the attitudes toward it are so completely off. I have never had a person treat me poorly while I was in a manic episode. Not one. Not even when the plainly awful behaviors were showing. Each person seemed to find it charming, amusing, or interesting. Even when there were moments where I was so out of control that I was scared out of my wits, not a single person around me seemed to notice that there was something absolutely wrong with it.
No, my energy and spirits were high. I would act impulsively, and people would take it as spontaneity. I’d be overly, annoyingly chatty, and rudely interrupting others, but they took it as being outgoing. Everyone seemed to think that was a sign that I wasn’t depressed anymore. They seemed to think that it was some kind of miraculous recovery from “being like that”.
People only seem to take notice when I am depressed or mixed, like it’s some kind of disease that I choose to be afflicted with. And the comments are absolutely endless, because everyone seems to have their own opinion about it. It’s as if they consider themselves to be the authority on depression, anxiety and sadness in general. I will constantly hear phrases like, “Get over it” and “Get a grip” as if just snapping out of it were an option for me.
Meanwhile, people without mental health diagnoses start flinging clinical terms around, like they had some true application to their fleeting, shallow emotion. For instance, “Oh, I’m so *bipolar* today”, instead of just saying that they are moody, or women arbitrarily making a comparison between PMS and Bipolar Disorder. Or “I’ve just been so depressed lately”, to reference a little bit of discontent or sadness.
It’s not cute. It’s not funny. No one with those diagnoses thinks that it’s witty that someone is taking a serious clinical term with so much guilt and stigma that it could bring down a religion, and applying it to their BS, frivolous emotions!
It does everything it can to minimize those conditions. It puts it in a light that we have some kind of real control over it. As if it were something that a person can just “snap out of”. It implies that a person chooses to be disordered. It also puts a shameful connotation of attention seeking behavior.
Yeah, it’s the life, let me tell you. If I were doing anything for attention, it wouldn’t be this. It would probably be something more hilarious, like plastering myself with an obscenely worded banner and rollerblading through Downtown. Depression isn’t newsworthy, but that sure is. Or maybe I’d be doing something a little more productive or noteworthy, like finding a cure for cancer. But no, my depression is just that interesting that I would choose to gain that much needed attention from people I don’t even know or care about.
I have to wonder if the general public has to be so naive that they would actually be jealous over it. So much emphasis is put on the “just get over it” ideals, as if that were possible. If I could will myself out of this state, don’t you think I would do it already? It would be more logical to think that I want to reclaim my life and be a productive person. But no, according to others who are ignorant enough of mental illness, I am perfectly content to have disordered behaviors. Sure, who doesn’t love ignoring their kid because the voices just got too loud? Personally, I love gripping my ears and screaming, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!!”
And as a result of this blatant ignorance, I am really starting to believe that some are just plain jealous. Because, they seem to think that those with disorder aren’t being responsible for their emotions and behaviors that result. I certainly have quarrels with wanting to thrust a sense of selfishness and entitlement out there, because it’s what I have to do to take care of myself and my own in this world. It’s those same people that shove themselves and their ideals down other people’s throats, only to make them feel bad. Misery loves company, and we’re perfect targets, right?
The point is this. If a person is out there reading this and getting offended, it’s time to take a step back and think hard. Is it so fair to be so judgmental? Isn’t it about time to take a look from another perspective? Does a person with a congenital disorder choose to be symptomatic? It would be an entirely different story if I were refusing treatment, but like anyone else, I am keeping my appointments and taking my medication according to doctors orders. We don’t blame someone for their symptoms when they have a seizure. Why should this be any different?
Let me assure everyone. If could have snapped out of this disorder and been a “normal” person, I may have done it, instead of living this ongoing nightmare.