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Depression is real and deadly, not a ‘fad or crazy trend’

It is important that we educate ourselves to avoid offensive and insensitive comments about people who are dealing with it
11:24 AM October 28, 2017

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ARTWORK BY AL ESTRELLA

Imagine depression as this small figure that sits at the back of your head. It’s barely noticeable, but once provoked, it becomes bigger. It occupies the space in your brain that causes you to feel anxious, nervous, sad or angry.

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You start to have feelings that are too overwhelming, until they start to eat you from the inside. You feel worried for no reason. You feel caged, unable to mentally move. You feel smaller as the figure gets bigger, until it consumes you. The figure inside your brain has taken over.

Depression has settled in, comfortable in its place while you are struggling to find a way out.

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In medical terms, depression is defined as a serious illness that negatively affects the way a person thinks. The deadliest thing about depression is that it affects any gender or age. It can occur anytime in anyone’s life. Experts say it is caused by genetics, but oftentimes it is also triggered by extreme stress, trauma, grief, and the like.

Sixteen percent of the population, a large number coming from their teens to late 20s, will probably, at some point in their lives, experience depression. This is why it’s good to learn about the condition now before it’s too late.

Stress

I first learned about it in grade 5. Our teacher told us about a student of hers who was diagnosed with depression.

This student was consistently at the top of her class. But her teachers started getting worried upon finding out that she was inflicting harm on herself. As it turned out, she was pressured to do her best in everything. Self-inflicted pain was her way to cope with stress.

I remembered my best friend whom I met in grade 7. A bubbly type, she could light up a room with just her smile.

She told me that, in her younger years, she suffered intensive emotional bullying. Reminiscing on the experience drove her to tears.

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Who knew that such a gentle and loving person could also fall victim to depression? Fortunately, she got over it by living life one day at a time.

Sudden shift

I also remembered my grandmother when she was undergoing dialysis three times a week. My aunt and I accompanied my grandma as she went through the three-hour-long procedure.

One time, my aunt told me that one of my grandmother’s fellow patients was depressed due to his illness, which forced him to retire and undergo dialysis. This sudden shift in his life made him less physically inclined to do anything. He began to suffer mood swings and breakdowns.

As I grew older, I heard numerous opinions and views about depression. Some said that it was just a way of getting attention. Others called it a fad, some crazy trend of today’s generation.

I rarely heard people say that depression is a serious mental illness. I couldn’t give an opinion because I myself was unaware of what it really was.

Until one day, a friend came to me and asked for help about a person she knew who wanted to commit suicide. My friend was part of a counseling group hotline that helped people with suicidal tendencies. That was when I realized the seriousness of this issue.

I’ve heard many stories since then. I’ve seen the scars of depression on my friends. They carried it on their backs, doing their best to look and feel fine when, in reality, it was slowly crushing them.

I’ve talked to people about their experiences and, sometimes, when they ask for advice on how they can end it, all I could do was hold them tightly because I couldn’t say it was going to be all right.

All I could do was pray for them.

It’s good that people these days are more open to talk about depression. The youth, in fact, are very vocal about it on social media. There is a sense of concern on the reality of depression.

There have been many great people who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this illness. It is important that we educate ourselves to avoid making offensive and insensitive comments about it.

Depression can be treated by seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist. Start by opening up to family or friends.

For those who are experiencing this silent illness, you are not alone. There are many out there who are willing to help. Do not be ashamed of the scars and the tears. Let these serve as a reminder that you have survived another day. —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: Depression, mental health, mental health problems, Teen Depression, youth depression
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