On my 23rd birthday, my friends took me out. It was a Tuesday night, so not exactly a prime night for the partying scene…however, I was excited to go out and be social, as it was only a few months after my hospitalization. After a few hours of complimentary shots thanks to our wonderful bartender, whom I had always adored, I was definitely feeling a solid buzz, especially since it had been MONTHS since I had drank alcohol. At least, like I had used to. I sat at the bar and chatted casually with my friends, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
When I turned around, it was my childhood neighbor…a girl a year younger than I, but I had always remained friendly with over the years. We had never really been close, but we liked catching up from time to time as we had literally lived across the street from each other since birth. I asked her what she was doing with her life, and she told me she was going to get her master’s for school counseling. Instantly, I was impressed, and chose that moment to confide in her that I had spent some time in the hospital, and then through 2 day a week therapy for depression and a few other mental health issues- tentative diagnosis that I was working on with a team of health professionals. Her reaction is one that will always remain clear as day in my mind, despite the cloudiness of whiskey and the other potency of mixed booze.
“Oh. Why are you depressed?” She asked me.
My confidence had taken a major blow since coming to terms with my mental health issues, because explaining them had proven to be no easy task. A girl…excuse me, a WOMAN, going to school to counsel youth, some of whom will be bound to have mental health issues related to mine, some probably even more severe than mine, and she asked me the one question I had asked myself for years. The one question I had pitted against myself almost minutely…the one I couldn’t give an answer to; the one which stemmed an immense amount of self loathing and ultimately led to my hospitalization. WHY are you depressed? I mean, isn’t this basic psychology here…one that far surpasses my knowledge and education in this field(for now, as many of you know). Isn’t that like psychology 101 of fucking talking to people about their issues? Don’t ask them why? And if it’s not something you learn…isn’t that just Not Being Tacky 101? Beats me.
I was polite, as I was not only shocked at the ignorance of an upcoming professional, but I also didn’t want to ruin my night. Given, at this time I was also extremely insecure and concerned what people would think of me. I was still in that “selfish” phase of thinking, where I still wasn’t quite to terms with my diagnosis and progress. I had come far, but there were still bad days. In fact, this was one of the first times I was showing my face out in public, in a town where I had been a regular. My absence had been noticed, and I knew some of my former friends had not received the news well…dismissed it as something as trivial as the flu. Regardless, I answered.
“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “They’re telling me I was born this way.” And I smiled and promptly changed the subject to Beyoncé or jello shots or something much more compatible with the current scenario. And moved on with my night…and actually had a lot of fun. But that’s not the point.
This blog topic is all about blogging something I feel strongly about. We throw around words so casually, ones which DO impact the way society views them as real life issues. I have a friend, whom chooses not to read any of my blog posts or even follows my Twitter page, despite knowing all about the movement of #EndTheStigma and what I promote. In fact, we have very different views on mental illness. She doesn’t believe in medication for anxiety or depression. The only difference is she has no experience with it, and I do…so naturally, I don’t take much offense to her ignorance. It’s almost embarrassing. She chooses not to educate herself, and it is very painful. Very painful, because her biggest resource is so accessible. So accessible that she wouldn’t even have to open a textbook. Because it’s me. She has zero interest in what I do here, and although I am not expecting everybody to be as enthusiastic or excitable when I reach major milestones in not only MY life but the overall movement, it is very hard to consider someone one of your best friends when they couldn’t care less. I am not by any means throwing shade, but her language toward mentally ill people bothers me like no fucking other. She will constantly complain she is “depressed” because her hair isn’t long or that her boyfriend is “bipolar” when in reality he’s just acting like a typical male douchebag with all of the knowledge of my struggles. When I correct her language(and always very good naturedly…ALWAYS), she becomes very offended. Whereas the majority of people apologize and move on, she will actually pick fights with me about this. “You’re being overly sensitive about this.” “It’s really not that big of a deal.” “You’re making this into nothing.”
Here’s the thing. I would and do correct anyone who uses the words ‘I’m depressed” over something idiotic that you aren’t depressed about. I would say it to anyone…I’ve come to the point where I have no filter about this, and I am not ashamed. I’m generally friendly and silly about it…”Oh come on, it’s not that bad. Don’t be so dramatic!” And me and the person who said it will often be a teensy bit embarrassed and we will both laugh because SHIT HAPPENS. But do NOT treat me like I am being overzealous for promoting my cause outside of fucking Twitter. Depression is…it’s just, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Not even my worst enemy or the biggest asshole of a guy I know. Nobody deserves it. CALL ME AN UPTIGHT BITCH- seriously, do it! I don’t care! Because depression isn’t something to be taken lightly- ever. If that makes me uptight, then so fucking be it. It’s important to ME because the reason I didn’t get help for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS is because of the way I viewed it, which in whole had a lot to do with the language that surrounds it. People who were depressed had tangible reasons- tragedies, cancer, dead family members. They weren’t people like me. People “like me” were depressed because the boys we kissed last night didn’t call us the next day, and our favorite manicurist was on vacation when we needed a fill, and the cable went out right when American Horror Story started. Shit like that. See the “us” vs. “them” ideology I had in my head? Words matter. And if I have to be an uptight bitch about extending your vocabulary and offering your sensible and non-offensive and more APPROPRIATE words to fill in the blanks with, then hello, hi…I’m okay with that! Because if it means helping work toward ending a stigma, and helping work toward ONE less person having to deal with I did ALONE for way too fucking long, then I will proudly take on the role of being an uptight bitch! Please…can I just change my handle now?