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Depression: The Most Realistic and Underestimated Mental Illness

Mental health awareness month

When someone has depression, whether it is diagnosed or not, the reasoning behind it is not always simple. Even though depression can affect multiple people in so many ways, it still gets neglected as a real mental illness.

S. Makai Andrews, a rising sophomore at Ithaca College, has struggled with depression and understands it pretty well. Andrews explained that she was “diagnosed with depression, for the first time, at age fourteen and she has been on some sort of treatment plan ever since.”

“It’s stupid to consider depression as a minor illness just because it has become a commonly known illness. That doesn’t make it any less real. That’s like saying breast cancer isn’t real because so many people have it. The numbers should speak for themselves. This is a big deal, a big problem, and it only seems to get bigger.”

One of the biggest reasons why depression is not considered a real mental illness is because the media both tend to misinterpret it and fails to accurately portray it.

In the Netflix TV Show “Thirteen Reasons Why,” the reasoning behind Hannah Baker’s suicide is based upon solely the way she is treated by her surroundings, without any acknowledgment that she has become ill mentally as well.

“In the case of TRW, they make it seem like Hannah died by suicide simply because of the way other kids treated her. This isn’t the case, and the show does a disgrace to the strides that mental health groups have made towards advocacy and awareness over the years,” Andrews said.

This is just one of the ways, depression has been painted with a brush, far away from reality, that lacks accuracy.

Makai is far too familiar with that situation since she has experienced it growing up.

“I had a teacher once who totally dismissed any sort of mental illness or mental health concern as me being whiny and noncompliant. I was considered to be lesser because of an illness that I could not control, that I did not ask for.”

The story of Makai resonates with many who have struggled with depression for years. In my case, I battled with extreme depression from the age of 12 to 14, even though I was never diagnosed by a doctor.

When you are depressed, it is very hard to open up to people because you constantly feel you are going to be judged.

In fact, when I finally had the courage to open up and explained, to “what I thought” was, a close friend about my struggle with depression, she told me that I was “being too emotional” and that I needed to “get over it.” And not so oddly enough, I tried so hard to believe what she had told me was true, but I ended up feeling worse.”

And even though I may not be that person anymore, depression never really fully goes away. For some people, it comes and goes in intervals, and for others, it is constant. However, since a mental illness like this can be extremely complex, there isn’t always a why to a person’s feelings.

In the words of S. Makai Andrews, “Mental illness is both environment and genetics – there’s no one reason for anything.”

By: Amber Raiken

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