We’re Not Choosing to be Depressed

Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans will experience depression at one point or another? And, 80% of people who exhibit symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving treatment.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Americans and depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the suicides reported.

Last month rapper Kid Cudi released a statement on his Facebook page being honest about his depression and feeling suicidal. So many people praised him for doing so and sent well-wishes because he took a big step towards recovery. This put fire under my behind to hurry up and get this post done, especially because Cudi expressed shame and apologized for his depression. Apologizing for being depressed is something no one should have to do but many feel they have to because they have guilt and feel as though they somehow did something wrong. I think this thought process stems partially from the stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially depression, and the thought that we somehow CHOOSE to feel this way.

Happiness Isn’t Always a Choice

This is one statement I absolutely loathe hearing someone say to someone who has expressed that they are depressed. More often than not, the statement comes from good intentions of making someone feel better but it just.. doesn’t. I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and says “you know what? I feel like being depressed today!” (and if you know someone who does, please direct me to them because I would love to pick their brain).

I went back and forth so many times before I first made a Facebook post about struggling with depression. I even went back and forth about creating a blog that highlighted some of those struggles. You can read about that here.

I would constantly drop subtle hints that I struggled with depression. I’d share a blog, or video, or news article with statistics on depression. Until one day I was finally open and honest about it–publicly. I was met with much praise and “I’m proud of you”. I also received MANY private messages from others about their struggle with mental illness and how they wish they could be open and honest about how they are feeling as well. You never really know who around you is suffering and to what extent.

Unfortunately, not everyone is met with the same support and often people are made to feel like depression is something that they choose to suffer from.

Depression Isn’t a Choice

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen tweets or posts telling depressed people to “just choose happiness”. If only it were that simple.

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I post inspirational quotes about happiness all the time to uplift and inspire, but I’d never tell someone being happy is as simple as choosing to be. Because it’s not. If someone is truly suffering from depression, and not just sad or upset, simply CHOOSING happiness is not an option. That thought process is dangerous because it inflicts guilt and shame on those who are truly suffering. They feel that it is their fault. And that something is wrong with them because they can’t just “snap out of it” and feel better. 

Being completely honest, October was SUPER rough for me. Try as I may, I couldn’t snap out of it or choose to feel better. Too much was going on and I had started back on a medicine I hate that makes me feel terrible. There were times I couldn’t even be alone because I felt so shitty.

The next time someone expresses that they are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, encourage them to talk to someone and seek help. Seeking help, whether that is therapy or counseling, a consultation for medication, or life changes is a much healthier and helpful option than advising someone to “just choose to be happy.”

December 12, 2016

26 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jordyn

    November 11, 2016

    Ugh! This needs to be read aloud to the masses. Thank you!

  2. Reply

    Chloe

    November 11, 2016

    Thank you so much for this. I hate the belief that you can just make yourself happy just because someone said so. Depression is such a complex topic that people oversimplified.

  3. Reply

    caira

    November 15, 2016

    Thank you for this.

  4. Reply

    Tyler Ward

    November 16, 2016

    This is an issue that needs to be explored more, especially in the black community.

  5. Reply

    Niki

    November 16, 2016

    Great article-should be required reading!

  6. Reply

    crystal

    November 16, 2016

    Such .a powerful post. I always listen for subtle ways that a person may be telling me they need help. I would hate for someone to feel like they couldn’t reach out to me

  7. Reply

    trenara

    November 16, 2016

    So needs to be shared and discussed. So many suffer in silence or just don’t get the care because of false info being spread, Thank you for sharing!

  8. Reply

    staciesayzso

    November 17, 2016

    It’s really dangerous to talk to people who are hurting in this way. People should really be more empathetic. Pain is pain.

  9. Reply

    Carmen Carter

    November 17, 2016

    This is such a great read, depression affects so many people, and its important to be able to share your story and know theres an avenue for others to share theres.

  10. Reply

    Aaronica Bell Cole

    November 17, 2016

    Thank you for sharing this. So many don’t want to talk about depression and the stigma’s that go along with them. But they need to be talked about.

  11. Reply

    Ashlee Adams

    November 17, 2016

    Some people just don’t get it. Thank you for sharing. The world needs to know how serious depression is.

  12. Reply

    KeenVision

    November 17, 2016

    Am I wrong to believe that many of us suffer from depression? I feel that depression affects a lot of people; whether it’s bouts of it or a recurring depression state. I have my moments and sometimes, I have to “go-through it” in order to get over it.

  13. Reply

    Passportsandgrub

    November 17, 2016

    I suffered from depression in my twenties and it was battle to find my way out of the hole because it became comfortable for me to be depressed and then I began to crave the attention I was getting and then it became a cycle.

  14. Reply

    byDonnaShana

    November 17, 2016

    Great write-up! I really hope this dialogue goes far!

  15. Reply

    Kirstin N. Fuller (@thetravelindiva)

    November 18, 2016

    It a serious issue that needs to be dealt with delicately. I once worked at a job with a nightmare of a boss and i was often depressed or highly angry. It was two extremes nothing in the middle. Counseling really helped me and my counselor (who the job sent me to) reinforced that exterior things (my boss) were causing my depression and angry and it was ok. She taught me ways to handle both. To this day I use those techniques and I am forever grateful to her. We as a community have to get past the stigma of therapy. It really does help!

  16. Reply

    Kimberly Sessions

    November 18, 2016

    Thanks for this post. Depression is not talked about enough, but it’s so important to share this information.

  17. Reply

    Thirty30Courtney (@Thirty30Court)

    November 18, 2016

    Ohh my goodness! One, air hugs all around. Two, THANK YOU for this. Everybody does not always understand but empathy is so important. I will definitely be sharing this with my social networks. September / October were particularly hard for me too with my anxiety and one day I just couldn’t even go to work, so I am with you. Praying for a MUCH better rest of your 2016!

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      December 13, 2016

      Thank you for reading and sharing! I hope the rest of 2016 and ALL of 2017 is much better for you as well love! Keep fighting 🙂

  18. Reply

    LaQuisha Hall

    November 21, 2016

    Overcoming stress and depression is harder than many think. Some people walk around with a smile on their face and are internally depressed. It is hard to tell from the outside looking in. However, I know from experience that you can overcome!

  19. Reply

    T. Espi (@TheStyleMedic)

    November 22, 2016

    Ugh! People saying that depression is a choice is INFURIATING! comments like that just continue to add to the stigma. Thank you for sharing and I pray that things start to look up for you and if not, I pray you fond someone to talk to who can help you find your happy 🙂

  20. Reply

    Modern Day Girl Blog

    December 22, 2016

    Fab post right here. I’ve suffered from mild depression as a result of my anxiety and it isn’t nice. Well done for writing about it! It’s a lot harder to deal with than most think, and probably all of us just want to lead a normal life. It’s a shame that people still judge depression as something you can just get rid of. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Reply

    Arien Smith

    December 22, 2016

    Fantastic blog! This is a topic that really needs to be talked about more and it’s something I’m passionate about sharing too. Making meaning from our trials is a choice, but happiness certainly isn’t. We can’t choose the state of our mental health, not when it comes to depression, anxiety, and so on. Love this!

  22. Reply

    armidasworld.com

    April 11, 2017

    Depression is very real and I don’t understand how some people still don’t see that. Thank you for sharing this, it’s an interesting read.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      April 12, 2017

      Thank you for reading. And some people don’t understand because they haven’t been informed so I’m just doing my part!

  23. Reply

    Brady

    April 12, 2017

    Great Post. Depression has more facets than a diamond. I am a psych Nurse and this is what I work with daily. Depression can be many things, and isn’t a blanket diagnosis (as are all psych diagnosis’) The human mind is far too complex to simply label someone one thing or another. Depression could be a host of things and for some it is a matter of “stop feeling sorry for yourself” others it’s not. I think the best thing is to not judge and realize that everyone is unique in the way they think and how they deal with things internally.

    • Reply

      Ashleigh

      April 12, 2017

      Thank you for this comment, especially from someone in the field who see this daily!

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