The confrontation started when I shared a facebook post from my daughter:
No big deal, right? I try to support Mental Health awareness and stigma fighting because several members of my family, myself included, have dealt with mental health issues, depression in particular.
Then a guy I knew and had not seen since high school replied to my post with this comment, “people say women are better communicators - obviously not.”
I should have known better than to respond. But in the interest of trying to educate someone on depression respond I did, “It is not a male or female issue. It is one of the really hard things with depression.”
The guy again responded with his focus on the female focus of the post, “"she was depressed" "she did" "she told you" x7”
Again I tried to be the voice of reason and explain, “Whoever wrote it used "she" but it applies equally to "he"”
When he responded, “so, my original statement stands”, I should have quit. I should have recognized that this was not a conversation, it was a confrontation.
At this point, my son asked,”What exactly is that original statement?” and I sent him a link.
The guy, in response, posted a graphic that said, "We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It's up to us to make it good or bad."
One of my son’s friends jumped in with, “this image/story was being used as a descriptive example to illustrate something about depression. The author made the subject of the story a female, but all of the "shes" could easily be replaced with "hes." This is obviously not intended to be a scientific study about the relationship between gender and depression, but if you think women are the only people who suffer from depression, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself.
And in regard to your claim that an "easy solution" to depression is "talking to people," I'm going to be frank: if someone is suffering from depression, and the only people they have to talk to are as misinformed as you have demonstrated yourself to be through your comments, that is going to do much more harm than good. There is no "easy solution" to depression. It's not simply feeling sad or having a bad day. It's so much more complicated than that, and until you do enough research to fully grasp what it is, you shouldn't comment on it.”
I thought my son’s friend's response was very well written. I had had enough though. I was dispirited and tired of having to justify my depression, so I chose to bow out, “I give up. Truly I just wanted to share something that is true in my life and my daughter's. Both of us suffer from depression. While I did not write the piece I appreciated the sentiment behind it. Ok?”
Unfortunately he was not done, “it just bothers me that women 'suffer' from depression when there is an easy solution: talk to people.”
My fuel tank was empty so I posted the following and then unfriended him, “t is not that simple. I wish it were but it is not. Men suffer from depression also. Frankly I cannot help you understand it as I have lived it but do not have a medical degree. wishing you the best but I am done. Thank you.”
Another on my friend’s weighed in, “some people just don't get it.......unless you are dealing or have dealt with it, you don't understand it.....you are 100% correct......it isn't simple.”
I posed on Twitter, “ · Some days #depression just sucks the life out of you, circumstances/individuals can make it worse. Time for #selfcare & going offline.” My twitter automatically posts to my facebook. I signed off and watched a Dan Jones documentary on the Great Castles of Britain to try to decompress (yes, I am a history nerd).
But it wasn’t over. I received a facebook message from the guy which he sent shortly after I had unfriended him. He said, “seriously Nan; my mom suffered from depression for 30 years. i would call her fairly often just to talk to her. i suffer from it as well. the only way to combat it is talk to people. If there is a simple solution to your problem, why won't you try it? to make yourself seem more mysterious? self-righteous? Seriously, depression is very easy to combat, if you do not enable it.”
When I read the message this morning, my jaw dropped. “Depression is very easy to combat, if you do not enable it”? How am I enabling it? I see a therapist. I take anti-depression medications.
“The only way to combat it is to talk to people”? Which people should I be talking to? Surely not someone like this guy? Shouldn’t those of us who suffer (and yes dear God, we suffer) from depression support each other? Not shame each other?
Last night when I signed off, I was almost in tears. I was tired and depressed and frustrated. This morning, I am mad, angry and completely pissed off. This is not a good thing. I have a weapon that I employ when I am truly angry. My words, my less than under average writing and I am using them now. We have got to stop having to justify our mental illness. We have got to not being in a position where we feel we have to give personal medical information to prove that we are trying to “get better”. And we have got to stop attacking other individuals with mental illness and support each other.
So what was the purpose of sharing this long and detailed conversation from social media? To illustrate that not only is there stigma still against mental illness but there is a shaming factor, too. Stigma and Shame have got to stop.