Tessa,

Your comment bears answering. Personally, you did not injure me. But your words can be harmful to other people.

I toyed with deleting but, I am responding because the comment is evidence of how far we need to come for mental health awareness.

I’ve heard similar words from other people when I’ve been depressed, and they aren’t healing words.

My first thought when I saw your response: “Surely no one would be cruel enough to come to an article on mental health and depression, solely to leave an arrogant and unkind comment.”

Liken your words to going to a grieving couple who just lost a child and lauding the fact that you’d never wanted children, your life was great childless, and the grieving couple should just get over their pain because you were doing great. You wouldn’t do that (I would hope). Their pain is real, even if you never experienced it personally. So it is with people who experience mental health issues. Their pain is palpable and very real.

We all process differently. I’m so glad you’ve not suffered depression. I’d not wish this on anyone.

But to explain to one who hasn’t suffered it, I’d say it’s not “unhappiness” – but instead, it is despair. Think, “the absence of hope.” As if nothing will break through the blackness, and everything of joy and everyone of joy in your life was wiped from the face of the Earth. Before you, there lies nothing but desolation.

Statements like those you’ve said come across as an arrogance, “I’m stronger than you, because I’ve never felt suicidal or depressed.” Almost a “Shape up you weak, fragile people.”

Every human being is wired to avoid pain. We touch a hot stove. We remember the pain. And we avoid it, forevermore. But when the pain is inside your head, a constant and fierce drumbeat, it’s impossible to escape it. Suicide can feel like a relief from that thudding agony. We fight it. Daily for some.

The strongest, the most amazing and inspirational people I know—are those who have found deep inner strength and have fought the demon known as suicide and depression. But it would NEVER dawn on me to look at those who took their lives, as fragile. Never. I consider all who fight mental health issues as strong and courageous.

Similarly, I do not believe statistically “Americans” are the most emotionally unhealthy nation. Again, that attitude comes across as smug, superiority. “Just be a strong, Aussie and you’ll not be depressed.”

I found statistics below in the link (mind you older ones) but according to this, Australians led Americans in ages 15-54 in suicides. Perhaps it’s improved there since this data, but mental health issues transcend countries.

Empathy is needed here. If you didn’t mean be unkind, consider if your words heal or hurt. If hurtful, choose not to say them, especially if it appears judgmental, smug and harsh. Scroll on by, rather than hurt, if your intent truly is not to harm.

https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/United-States/Crime/Suicide-rates#stat

Writings of a solivagant, gypsy soul, foodie, and pirate hopeful. Unconventional mother. Sometimes profane. Occasionally profound.

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