I was sitting in the lunch room at work with a group of co-workers, flipping through the newspapers. I came to an article on the suicide of Marie Osmond’s son, which led to the whole table discussing the incident. And it was immediately underlined for me how little most people know about mental illness and depression. Here’s a brief list of some of the questions and statements that came up during the discussion, the entirety of which I spent shrinking into myself and trying to be invisible:
- “Is depression even a real disease?”
- “People who commit suicide don’t really want to die – evolution wouldn’t let us have suicidal tendencies because it goes against survival.”
- “It must be because his mom had mental health problems too.” Someone inquired if depression was hereditary and the original speaker replied “No, but being around depressed people can turn you into a depressed person.”
- “I once knew a bipolar. She married my cousin and my mom got so mad, like you should never marry a bipolar because it’s not a good idea for them to have kids.”
Finally, a young man told a long story about his ex-girlfriend, who had experienced major depression, and how it affected her and the serious limitations it caused her. It was a great illustration of the reality of depression and the changes it can cause in day to day life. It was unfortunately concluded with a “so that’s why you can’t be in a relationship with those people, it’s just too hard.”
We’ve got a long way to go, y’all.