Dear Depression Help Pages, Stop Posting How Much Depression Sucks! We Know!

Have you posted memes and pictures like these on your social media or website?

 

Have any of these ever really helped anyone? Really? Truly? I highly doubt that.

Please stop. Or at least post more wisely.

Why stop?

Do you know who these memes are resonating with? They’re resonating with those of us who already have depression. And we’re using them to wallow deeper in the mire.

The images have no positive effect on those of us who are battling depression. When we see these memes day after day, they make us feel worse and encourage depression to take root more strongly. Every time we see some post saying depression sucks, we agree and subconsciously tell ourselves to be depressed and stay depressed. Seeing them over and over creates a self-pity party.

Being reminded of how much depression sucks never helps. It makes us slaves. The reminders keep us tied down. Our resistance and resolve weakens. We become “comfortable” in our misery.

Worse still, when we see the message repeatedly, we start to identify with depression, as if it’s something that belongs to us and is a permanent part of us. It doesn’t and it isn’t.

What we really need is how to get some relief from depression and how to find a way out.

I’m not attacking you, I’m helping you

Before I go any farther, if you have posted this kind of meme or image online, thank you for your good intentions. Don’t think I’m bashing you. I can support your work while criticizing one unhelpful part of it.

Take it from somebody who’s had depression since 1982. The last thing any of us needs is an opportunity to feel like shit, to pity ourselves, to remind ourselves how hard it is, and to convince ourselves that it’s hopeless.

Half the battle against depression is learning to believe that we can do something about it. The other half is deciding that the hard work of doing something is better than the hard work of putting up with the “black dog”.

Consider how pain management psychology works

Do you tell someone in physical pain how bad that pain feels? Do you tell someone who is literally aching for relief that it’s the shits? If you increase the person’s stress about it, you make the pain worse. They already know it’s bad – they’re living it. They want help, not a mental pathway that focuses on how much it hurts. If you convince that person that the pain is terrible and – worse still – inevitable, they’ll be stuck with it more severely and for longer.

Instead, you need to provide some relief, then show them ways to look past it, manage it, and overcome it.

It’s the same with depression. Tell one of us depressed people how bad it feels and guess what? We’ll feel horrendous. Worse still, we’ll feel it more intensely and the struggle to get rid of it will be much worse.

We need help, not negative reinforcement.

You THINK you’re helping

When you post memes and pictures like above, you might think you’re increasing awareness of depression. I see so many people in my social media feed who are convinced that society and employers and friends need to be made more aware of depression.

They don’t. They already know about depression. They know it exists and they know it sucks. (Side note: If you have a friend or employer or organization that doesn’t “believe” in depression, or doesn’t support you, there is no way in hell that a meme will convince them otherwise. So don’t waste energy on them. Focus on you.)

Society and employers and friends need to be made aware of how to help.

Those of us with depression are very aware of it. We don’t need reminders of how shitty it feels. We don’t need encouragement to feel like crap. But posts of this nature encourage us to wallow in self-pity.

Seeking likes is a selfish goal that helps nobody

Every time you post about how bad depression feels, you get likes and engagement, right? Every time you come up with some clever metaphor that you think will resonate with people out there, you get likes and engagement, right? People come from everywhere to hit the Like button and leave comments. “Finally, at last, someone understands!”

You must be doing a good thing, right?

You think you’re doing a good thing. But you’re chasing fans, while the rest of us are made to be followers looking outside of ourselves for an answer. We aren’t engaged. We’re thirsty. We’re desperate. We’re crying for help. It’s not a community; it’s a trap.

Misery loves company

Some people will argue with me – passionately – that they do feel community and support from online engagement and comments. I don’t agree. The old saying “misery loves company” comes to mind. What people think is support is actually a sense of justification for feeling like crap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to express how you feel when you have depression. What I’m saying is it’s not helpful to wallow in pity, which includes seeing everyone else say how crappy they feel.

When you have depression, the last thing you need is more depression. But it’s so easy to fall into the quick sand of identifying with depression.

Online “support” is a substitute. It’s seeking validation from outside one self. And it fails because it isn’t real. It’s not real, human interaction. It’s sitting in isolation and pretending that it’s support. A moment of self-deception doesn’t alleviate the pain – it entrenches it. When you put the device down, you remember that the support people are not actually there.

It also fails because the only validation and healing we need is within ourselves.

Get offline whenever you can

Text and pictures can never be like spoken words, eye contact, physical presence, and physical touch.

Negative messages in our social media feeds tend to sink in. Even if we see one briefly and then scroll past, it sinks in. It makes us search for a distraction or some temporary pain relief, which often happens in a destructive way.

Haven’t you wondered why depression and anxiety rates are so high these days? To a large extent, it’s because of social media and how we are affected. When we scroll our social media, we are in total isolation, where:

  • we compare ourselves (often subconsciously) with the image others post online
  • we think we’re not good enough and have to be better
  • we see the likes and attention others get and think that’s what we need
  • many of us project our hurts and problems onto others, saying stuff from behind a screen that we would never say face to face.

Basically, we try to show one version of ourselves online while struggling with our real selves in real life. It’s a terrible struggle with only losers, no winners.

We’re looking for validation outside ourselves. We’re looking in precisely the wrong place. We’ll never find it in social media.

We have to go and see professionals, talk face to face with many people, meditate, change our thinking, and so on. Scrolling for hours through Facebook won’t help one iota in that process. I know. I’ve wasted so much time doing that and never felt better.

Time to criticize myself

Yes, the first blog I ever published here was about how depression feels. So flame away at me.

Sometimes I think I should delete it – at least if I’m to be consistent with what I’ve written in this blog. Maybe I will. For now, I’ll leave it. For starters, it might remind me of the mindset I was in and show me how far I’ve come. But it can also be used as an experiment – read it and see if you feel better or worse about your depression. I’ll bet it doesn’t help. If so, point proven.

Get out of your comfort zone

Posting and reading self-pity material keeps us in the world of depression that we’re so familiar with. Hiding behind the “screen barrier” is a place where depression can never be improved. Such activity discourages us from doing what we need to do – getting outside that comfort zone and making wholesale changes.

Ask for help, absolutely. But saying only how shitty you feel is not asking for help. It’s asking for pity, which keeps you tied down.

I said it earlier in this blog:

Half the battle against depression is learning to believe that we can do something about it. The other half is deciding that the hard work of doing something is better than the hard work of putting up with the “black dog”.

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