I know, I know, I’m basically turning into a depression-and-Judaism-blog… but that is my life, y’all. They’re both part of me and they both affect my daily life and neither one is something that I ashamed of.
Today’s rant is brought to you by the fact that my final project for my grad class was on supporting students with depression, which I wrote while struggling with a rough episode this past week–and which put me in contract with way too many moments of people shrugging off my struggle because “it’s not that big of deal.” Protip: don’t tell someone who has depression that they’re just “feeling a little depressed” and they’re going to be fine–feeling depressed and having depression are not the same thing, and I’m pretty sure I know more about my mental health than you do.
You guys, I have had it. I am so fucking tired of people invalidating my depression because they have feelings too or whatever. If I was struggling going up the stairs because of a physical disability, you wouldn’t say that “stairs are difficult for everyone” because you would understand that there is a difference–and it’s the same for those of use who have invisible disabilities, who are mentally ill. You also wouldn’t ask that person what could cause them difficulty with the stairs because you know that it’s their disability–so I don’t see why it’s okay to interrogate someone with a mood disorder and ask them what they have to be angry/sad/upset about. Likewise, if I am in pain due to an injury or physical disability, you wouldn’t tell me to suck it up and deal with it, or to realize that I can’t change the pain so I should just focus on what I can change, like my outfit–those two things are as unrelated as external factors are to me having an episode.
TL;DR: People with disabilities, invisible or otherwise, experience life differently–in a way that is neither better nor worse than you do. It’s just different. And no, we’re not expecting you to understand what our life is like because many times we don’t quite understand what “normal” life is like. All that we ask is that you recognize that you don’t know what our lives are like, and therefore you do not get to judge us based on what you would do if you were “in our position” because you’re not and you haven’t been and you don’t know.
Want to try to understand? You can start by playing a game that helps you experience the headspace of someone with depression. There are plenty of fact sheets on the Internet–here’s one I like. Hyperbole and a Half wrote two awesome posts that look at depression’s effects both internally and socially. Christine Miserandino explains invisible disabilities’ effects through spoon theory, and post-secondary students with invisible disabilities talk about them in this video. If you want to help your classmate/employee/colleague/student, THANK YOU–here’s some accommodations. I’ve also written about life with depression extensively in my own tag. Oh, and here’s a short story I wrote about depression during my worst episode back when I was a college senior.