It's true that many celebrities have struggled with depression, and it's important to recognize how some of our role models might suffer from common mental illnesses. However, as young adults from widespread backgrounds, many of us have also been exposed to depression in some way, directly or indirectly. In any way you feel comfortable sharing, how have you experienced or witnessed depression in your life? Does your school, or community, respond in appropriate ways to reported cases?
Personally, I've been with a family member through a bout of geriatric depression. I feel strongly that cases of elderly depression are too often misunderstood, especially amongst medical professionals. Has anyone else seen this?
At my school, depression is viewed as a part of our high school experience. If you're not depressed, that means to a lot of people that you're not working hard enough. It's a viewpoint that's very unhealthy and one that nines to foster a community of mentally disabled individuals who refuse to take care of themselves.
Interestingly, I had a friend who had bouts of depression as the weather changed. This sounds a bit absurd, but it actually makes sense. According to WebMD, "Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. But researchers agree that people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it."
When winter comes around in New England, daylight hours shorten, and it is cold and dark. I noticed that my friend was negatively impacted by this. She would ramble on about her worries and troubles, and her confidence levels noticeably decreased.
Now that spring is settling in, I have seen her revert back to her old self. When the sun is up longer and it is warmer outside, she is cheerful and hopeful. For example, being able to dress up and not wear a puff jacket makes her happy.
For me, I have witnessed depression at my school, within my community, and in the people I know and love. My school is generally quite open about mental illness, and I would like to think that people who do suffer from it are supported; there are counselors and many ways to get help. My school recognizes mental illness as a struggle facing youth today. However, at the same time, I think that support within the community can improve in many ways. I have been in circumstances where I have had to comfort someone having a mental breakdown, but I admit that I was unsure how to properly help them in such a situation. I think my own experience of not knowing what to do for my friend may show that there is still something lacking in how the school and community tries to respond and help students with mental illness.
I go to a school that puts an emphasis on community and caring for each other, but a lot of people don't always understand what that looks like. There's a fine line between respect and unwanted intervention. My friends and I are open about bad days, panic attacks, or "sad hours" when we need to go on a walk or spend some time alone, and I've never been diagnosed with clinical depression or anxiety or received any legitimate education in the study of psychology, but I know that being especially aware and respecting someone's boundaries is incredibly important.