I was lurking around the Twitterverse a little while back and wasting time, as is my want when work is slow and dull, when I saw a post of epically dumb proportions. Dumb tweets are nothing special: there are probably more of those than there are dust mites in our beds. However, l felt compelled to respond to this one in particular because it was a statement I had heard at several points in the past.
Now who is this man, you ask? Is this a brilliant doctor of psychiatry with a new amazing hot take on depression? Well, he’s not a doctor. Andrew Tate is a kick-boxer who got kicked off a UK version of Big Brother. He’s probably done other things too but I was so busy looking to see where he studied medicine that I forgot to find out anything else. If you were wondering, he isn’t a doctor or a student of medicine of any kind. He’s just an opinionated jerk on Twitter and he’s never had it so he KNOWS it isn’t real. That’s just sound logic, right there (SARCASM ALERT: it isn’t).
But this opinion isn’t new or even unique. It’s old hat, my good fellows. The problem here (beyond it being wrong) is that when you have a platform and you spread misinformation like that, people can get hurt. People can die. All it would take would be one bad day for one person, perhaps a guy, and on that bad day this guy would see this dumb message. He’d probably heard it several times before but on this very bad day, this guy takes it to heart. He begins to think there’s nothing wrong with him but he can’t seem to get better. So he figures he must be weak. And it’s a weakness he cannot get rid of or explain. He figures that he’s a burden to his family or friends (he might not even have anyone near him to tell him otherwise). On this very bad day, this guy will despair that he isn’t strong enough or good enough or MAN enough to do anything about this. If he can’t change anything, he thinks, then why continue? There’s no way out but one way, this guy thinks. So he takes that very permanent way out on this one very bad day.
The sad thing is that it wouldn’t be an isolated incident and it wouldn’t need that tweet to prompt it. Men are statistically less likely to seek help for depression and are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is currently the 7th leading cause of death for men. The 7TH. Let that sit with you for a minute. That out of all the things in this world that can kill, for men they are their 7th top cause. Men are more likely to suffer heart disease (which happens to be the leading cause of death for men) linked to self medication from not seeking proper help for depression. So please don’t listen to Andrew Tate, men and women who are reading this. He is wrong. He is so very wrong.
In 2015, there were around 18% of Americans who were suffering from some form of mental illness but only 35% of people experiencing severe depressive symptoms said they were in contact with a mental help professional. And it’s in part because of attitudes like the above or even this:
Trust me when I say, people with depression would LOVE if it were this simple. If you’re lucky enough to actually get yourself outside, you find that the exercise helps but it isn’t the whole solution you need. Depression isn’t that simple. The brain is a complex organ and science is still making discoveries about how mental disorders. And if someone tries the advice above and finds they still have depression, they’ll begin to wonder why they aren’t one of those lucky people who can feel better just by having a run. They’ll hate themselves because they don’t work like normal people. Things will spiral from there.
I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. And I will tell you that in the last almost 2 years since I’ve started seeing a doctor and a therapist, I’ve felt better than I have in a very long time. I’ve even slept better. And yes, I’m on medication. Not everyone needs meds, this is true. But it isn’t the end of the world if you do. You aren’t weak or less than if you have to take a pill every day. It’s no different than an inhaler or insulin or anything that someone needs to take to live.
I’ve included some links below for people who are struggling or if you know someone who is. And if you know someone who is struggling with depression or any other mental illness, let them know they aren’t alone and that they aren’t weak. There is help. If you are someone, hello. My name is Erin. I’m here for you. Please get help because I need you here to stand beside me just like so many others do.