OPINION: It’s not just sadness: my struggle with depression

Oct 7, 2022 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

Most people think of a depressed person as someone who is extremely sad.

Obviously, that’s true. But it’s not that simple.

Not for me at least. In my case, depression is primarily an “empty” feeling. As we get further into the new millennium, it gets harder to make people care.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, “major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1 per cent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said “although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, more than 75 per cent of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment.”

In my case, my depression started when I lost confidence in myself.

I feel lonely because I don’t have many friends. I try to make friends, but I’m terrible at small talk and don’t have the best sense of humour. Even if I was good at it, my anxiety further complicates my ability to make friends.

In terms of the future, I feel like I don’t have one. At least not a promising one.

The vision I have is a 35-year-old me leaving my job working the cash register at McDonald’s to go to my high school reunion and see all my successful classmates. They have master’s degrees and PhDs, can afford detached homes in Ontario and have spouses who are just as successful.

I know that everyone feels down from time to time. Some people even feel worthless from time to time. But I feel worthless most of the time, like I have somewhere between little and nothing to contribute to the world.

People tell me I’m not worthless, but I don’t know what I’ve done to prove that to them.

There are moments when I either feel better or forget about it. When I’m with my family, at school doing the little socializing I do, and celebrating successes such as getting a good grade on an assignment.

But it feels like a loop. No matter how happy I feel one day, on another, I relapse into all the negative feelings and thoughts. When you truly believe you have no future, you lose the motivation to try and make a better one because you ask yourself, “What’s the point?”

One challenge I face is people who try to invalidate my depression.

They say something along the lines of, “you’re depressed? But why? What do you have to be sad about?”

Those words don’t help at all but truthfully make it worse. My advice to a depressed person who hears someone say that is to stop talking to them about it. In my case, the things they have said, at times, convinced me that my depression is fake. That made me feel guilty, pathetic, weak, and…you guessed it, made it worse.

Finding someone who understands will help. Especially if, like me, your depression is related to loneliness. But, even if I have friends, if none of them relate to what makes me depressed, I feel isolated nevertheless. So, find the right people to help.

At Humber, there’s the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, which offers various different mental health resources, including counselling and access to 24/7 community support. Community support provides access to different crisis help lines like the Distress Centre and Good2Talk. Help for Indigenous students is available from Anishnawbe Health Toronto.

Depression is a void out of which someone needs to be pulled. Trying to invalidate it can push someone deeper into that void and make you a bad person. If you don’t believe someone is actually depressed, you’re entitled to your incorrect opinion, but please leave us alone.