On Robin Williams And What We Need To Learn…


Today, the world lost one of the most beloved celebrities of all time. Someone who’s career spanned decades, crafting movies, tv shows, stage products, and comedy albums that spanned from hilarious to profound and dramatic. Someone who was not only a beloved member of the comedy community, the actor community, but the video game community as well.

Robin Williams has always had his own unique style. Maintaining a child-like energy and excitement from the early days of his career to his recent role on the tv show The Crazy Ones. He was a one-of-a-kind performer who put everything into his work. An improvisational genius, he often came up with a lot of his stuff on the spot. His stand up shows would vary from show to show due to a lot of the jokes being thought up instantly. He even stopped by Who’s Line Is It Anyway? to lend his improve talents.

His Live On Broadway special ranks in my Top 5 favorite stand up comedy specials of all time, and he was one of my big influences in comedy writing. What Dreams May Come is one of my absolute favorite movies, and it is in part due to his genuine and heartfelt performance. He was a true talent, and the impact he’s left on generations is astonishing. May he rest in peace.

With the memorial out of the way, I want to focus on the sad parts of this: that it was depression and substance abuse issues that led to this. Moments like this need to not be mourned, but to be learned from. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around all of this, but here are a few things of note I want people to learn and take away from this horrible loss.

1 – People who suffer from mental health issues or addiction can smile. They can laugh. They can be productive and successful. They can have wonderful, loving relationships with family and friends. They can make huge impacts on people’s lives. Even the most boisterous laugh or widest smile can still mask unimaginable pain and fear. Depression, struggles, addiction can all hide behind energy and the appearance of perfect happiness. Appearances can be deceiving, and depression is even more deceiving.

2 – Seeking help is not the ONLY part of getting better – Robin had been through treatment. In fact, only a month or two ago, it was reported that he was here in Minnesota seeking treatment. He even stopped by a local Dairy Queen and surprised the staff and took pictures with fans on his way in to get help. But help is not the ONLY step to recovery. While therapy or treatment can be a positive part of the recovery process, it is not a instant fix. It also doesn’t always work for everyone, nor can it always help with every aspect of what is troubling you. Please know that getting help is a resource that should be readily available for all, but that it is not the final solution. It requires love, support, and lifestyle work as well as professional help to even begin to get a handle on something so unknown and powerful as mental illness and addiction.

3 – It can happen to ANYONE – It doesn’t matter how successful you are. How many loved ones you have. How much money you make. How much you get to express yourself – things like depression and addiction can still leave a mark on your life. NO ONE is safe from something that does not discriminate. That does not pick and choose. That isn’t just fixed by having positive things around you. It can hit at any time, and it can get anyone regardless of who they are or where they come from. Do not ever believe that someone is free from struggle just because they’re successful or appear happy.

4 – Every moment is the right moment to spread awareness and words of encouragement – Something that troubled me was people sending out words of encouragement and links to support for people suffering from mental health issues and addiction. This is a wonderful, hugely important thing… that we just don’t do often enough. We can’t always wait for a tragedy to strike to do this. These are things we need to talk about often, with love and understanding. Just getting the word out that people don’t have to be alone, that we all care and understand and want to fight for them. That they’re not broken or stupid or beyond our reach. Getting that word out, providing the help and the support, needs to be more frequent. We need to be willing to speak up at all times, not just when it claims a life. Because it claims lives every day. And it will continue to do so. We must not hold back on how hard and how frequent we fight.

These are just a few thoughts on my mind as I struggle against my own mental health being negatively effected by losing such a wonderfully inspirational person. I hope people can consider these thoughts and learn as they mourn. We can’t let mental health and addiction defeat us. For every single person that fights against these demons, we have to learn and understand and move all of us forward.

To everyone who is suffering from these problems: you aren’t alone, even when you feel it. You can come to me, or many supportive people and places, and seek help. You are not broken. You are not stupid.

You are not alone.

RIP Robin Williams. The infectious laughs will be missed. But they will not be forgotten.


Depression, Apathy & My “Yes” Problem


I can confirm that it’s possible to be completely apathetic and ridiculously productive and useful to other people.

Allow me to explain. I got bumped up to shift supervisor at work (not bad considering I started there two months ago), and everything’s been moving fast. I can’t say it’s been a blast being somewhat rushed through multiple training stages in two-months time. I haven’t exactly had a hard time adjusting, I’m usually quite quick to pick things up, even though that’s dulled over the last few years. My problem has come with the realization I kinda let this happen without expressing much reluctance to dive straight into everything head-first.

I should probably have taken it a bit more slowly. I sorta just agree to everything dumped in my lap and pick it up, no matter how much extra stress and anxiety comes with it. And since everything I do comes with stress and anxiety due to the complete and utter lack of self-worth in my head, it’s just added stress and anxiety when there is REAL stress and anxiety on top of the stuff I generate in my head for no good reason.

It’s not that I don’t think I can handle it: I can. And it’s not that I shouldn’t be doing this: I need the money and the hours. But what it really is is a problem I have with saying “yes”. I realized it when I picked up another shift tomorrow when I was supposed to have the day off. Which puts me at 6 days this week. Considering I worked the last few days, with my one day off being punctuated with heading into work for a bit to do something, and then working a bit at home as well, that means there is going to be a run of 11 days where I only don’t go into work one day. While that’s lovely for my paycheck, I kinda realized how much of a pushover it makes me seem to be.

It’s apathy. It’s a weird form of apathy that makes me not care what happens to me at all. If they wanted me to come in every single day for a year, I wouldn’t care in the slightest. I’d just go “sure, whatever”. If they wanted me to work from open to close without a break, I’d just go “sure, whatever”. Want me to wash the floor with my tongue? Whatever.

My apathy makes me easy to use. Having zero self worth and a general disregard for yourself and your own well being will do that to you. I don’t mind helping out and filling up time with work. I have nothing else going on really, so it’s something to do at least. But there are moments where I realize I should probably stop just kinda… agreeing to everything. That apathy is drawing me back into my routine of just bending over and taking whatever is shoved up my butt in regards to work and what people expect of me. I don’t view myself as someone that has limits, because I view limits as something someone who cares about themselves sets.

The last straw only exists when you have any straws to begin with.

Maybe I figure the only way to make any value in my life is by letting other people do with me whatever they want to. Maybe it’s just a distraction and therefore I’ll take it. Whatever it is, it comes from my mental illness and depression. It draws from that well. I know it does. And I don’t really care to stop it. I don’t have it in me to go “naw, I need my day off”. Or “I don’t think I’m ready to take on MORE responsibility when I’ve barely been here long enough to be completely comfortable”. I’m just going to continue doing whatever is asked of me and picking up slack wherever with no regard for my well being, sanity, or dignity.

That’s dangerous apathy right there.

Random Acts Of Kindness Shouldn’t Surprise Me As Much As They Do


Yesterday, I had a customer at work who handed me a five dollar bill and said “please put this towards the next person’s order” and then left with her stuff.

The next customer happened to be a lady with two kids in tow. She ordered her drink, and as instructed, I paid for it with the five dollars left behind. It was entirely taken care of. She was completely blown away by it. I had a couple bucks left over and put it towards making the next guy’s order only come to about a dollar. Two people were taken by surprise and had a tiny moment of kindness in their day. It left both rather elated.

For some reason, this was a genuinely surprising thing that happened. A stranger just leaving behind five bucks, not a particularly huge gesture, but enough that it managed to give two people something randomly pleasant where they didn’t expect it. That blows my mind, actually. And I am at a point where it kind of makes me sad just how surprising it was.

The whole “pay it forward” random-acts-of-kindness moments aren’t exactly UNCOMMON, but they’re not rampant either. And I feel like we’re in a world where I have to grumble under my breath at how mean people can be more often than I can smile at how nice they are. So when things like this happen, it does remind me there are still relatively decent people in this world, even if they show it with tiny things.

Not really sure why I’m writing this. To let people know there is still good out there? That people are willing to do little things here and there to make a complete stranger’s day better? Maybe it’s to remind myself of these things so I can stop being so surprised by random acts of kindness. That the world isn’t so bleak all the time. It encourages me, really.

So, if you got five bucks to spare, maybe we should all give this a try some day? Just drop it on a counter and say “hey, make the next person that walks in that door feel good”. I think next time I’m somewhere, I’m going to give that a shot.

“Mental Health” Isn’t Broad Enough


Usually, I’m uppity about terms being used to represent TOO LARGE of a behavior group. But the term “mental health” has always struck me as not being broad enough. That in order to make strides in awareness and recovery, we have to be more open to the implications of the terminology we use.

This came up during a discussion about the recent shooting in Southern California. I urge you to read the news article and consider the details before continuing. The shooter in this case gave a rather frightening manifesto video regarding why he sought out women and shot them, blaming his lack of ever having a girlfriend on a hatred for all women. It’s very easy to see why some believed this to be a simple case of a disgruntled, entitled misogynist lashing out when he didn’t get his way. But I immediately saw it as a mental health concern, as is usually the case when someone turns to taking multiple human lives as a way of projecting their feelings and thoughts.

Admittedly, I did not project that well enough, so I wanted to take this time to explain myself in greater detail and urge people to reconsider how we use the term “mental health” and what constitutes a mental health concern. Taking it at a rather literal face-value, mental health is anything related to your mental state and it’s well being. And since your mind is made up of such a large quantity of information and presents itself in a myriad of ways, your mental status is very broad and hard to take in all at once in a general sense.

The trouble I found is that the current use of “mental health” is usually equated to only certain types of mental health issues. Usually depression, suicide, psychopathy, sociopathy, or very televised mental health conditions like schizophrenia or things that are easy to spot on the surface. But I would argue that this is only the tip of a very large,and very hard to grasp ice burg. One I myself have been fighting to understand better ever since coming to terms with my own mental health concerns.

I am undiagnosed. I have never been labeled as “depressed” or “manic depressive” by any medical professionals. I was only in therapy for a few weeks as a pre-teen, and was put on medication for all of a week for anger management issues. Other than that, I have never once been TOLD I was mentally unwell. I never thought I needed to be. I became aware of my outward actions, and of my inner feelings, and recognized them as not being healthy. I believe without doubt that I have mental health issues, and that I am not a bad person for it. I also recognize that not everyone has that kind of self-awareness when it comes to these concerns, some never even finding out they had a problem to begin with.

That’s why I feel the need for “proof” is a bit sketchy. While it’s easy to instantly turn to mental health as a reaction to events like this, there are some that also believe it is hasty to use it as an excuse, that it derails the conversation. And that’s understandable, but I also believe it comes from a too-focused definition of what constitutes a mental health issue.

This shooter was called entitled, that he believed he deserved women, that it was his right. And I believe that mindset is unhealthy. Believing another human being is property is not a sign of a healthy mind to me, let alone being angry enough over it to take someone’s life as a result.

I parallel it to physical disorders. While there are physical issues that are very obvious, from cancer to abnormalities that show on the surface, there are also things such as the common cold. Or just feeling a bit wonky one day. I feel that we only see mental health as being the former, extreme, blatant, or not actually a health concern. That if it’s not something that can be labeled, treated, and diagnosed, it doesn’t deserve to be placed under the “mental health” umbrella. And I can understand that point, but as I said before, I believe your mind is such a large, vast thing that it can be unhealthy in many, many more ways than just depression or psychopathy.

And that includes entitlement and proprietary ownership of fellow human beings. As I said before, it’s an unhealthy state of mind to view yourself as in control of another person. This comes from a perpetual cycle of unhealthy mindsets passed down through our society and through those that shape us during our developmental stages. While this may not be an abnormality or a chemical imbalance such as depression, it is still a mental issue.

This is a result of, for lack of a better term, abuse of a young mind. This is why the way we present relationships, gender issues, and gender roles in media is truly dangerous. And the way we tell our children about certain things is equally as deadly. This is why people fight every day to show women as equal in our media. Not to sexualize and objectify them. It’s why it is so incredibly important to allow children to learn of respect early on, instead of this entitlement we blame this incident on. It is a matter of entitlement, but entitlement IS the mental health issue here. It’s the result of abuse, much like things such as drug addictions or anger issues can be as well. This kid was a result of an abusive home, with people who gave him at a young age an unhealthy perspective on the world, and of women.

I consider things like depression almost a physical issue. While thought processes, the way we’re wired to think, are more of a real “mental” health issue. It’s easy to believe that because his bad way of seeing things isn’t something that can be diagnosed or treated with medication, that it isn’t a health concern. But I think it doesn’t help matters to simply write this kind of escalation off as simply a person being bad. No one is bad from the start. And that’s where we need to start seeking understanding when events like this occur.

I don’t believe in demonizing someone like this. I believe we have to study the triggers, the things that “made” them do what they did, and figure out why they became this way. What is it about the world around us, the people who brought this person up, the situations and events he witnessed in his life, that led him to entitled misogynistic views of such a degree as to murder innocent strangers out of nowhere?

Treating this as a societal-centric mental health issue allows us to seek a better understanding of EVERYONE with these negative mindsets and points of view. It helps us address not only those that reach the level this young man did, but those that simply say mean things or treat people poorly due to their gender, race, etc. We have to remedy the cause, not just the disorder. We have to address what has caused this mindset to skew people’s point of view. And that starts with accepting that the term “mental health” has a far broader definition than we allow it to. Everything that causes our way of thinking to shift, and causes our actions to shift as a result of that, I feel deserves to be called a mental health concern.

And we need to keep that separate from other things. Such as depression, or suicide. Or what we label as someone being “crazy” or “insane”. These are different kinds of mental health concerns, not the only ones. The terminology is what catches us up. It’s easy to understand why some of these things get treated as something other than what they are: unhealthy.

I hope the conversation we can have going forward, as we inevitably face more events like this, can shift towards less demonization, and more attempts at understanding the underlying problems that cause unhealthy minds to grow, flourish, and explode.


In Defense Of The Pessimist


Let’s get one thing straight here: I am a pessimist.

I have no shame in this. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy things. And it is NOT. BY. CHOICE.

Something I find puzzling is that even people that recognize that mental illnesses, such as depression for instance, are not choices, will still assume that pessimism is something someone just CHOOSES to contain within their personality and self.

While there may be people who are negative by choice, pessimism does not automatically come down to deciding to see the bad in things or not. For me, it’s very much so how my brain works. It goes hand-in-hand with my depression. I look at the world around me and it feels crummy and full of dark clouds. I did not choose to have this happen. It hurts me every fucking day.

And yes, I vent it. I let it out of my head. You try keeping the weight of the world pent up inside your own head and tell me you wouldn’t want to spew a bit of it out at times. I’m a critical-minded person, I’m someone who is prone to emotional reactions to things (believe me, I wish that wasn’t the case, it’s fucking exhausting), and I can be down-right pissed off about the awful things that sink into my brain and make me fixate on them for hours at a time. It hurts. A lot. I cannot emphasize that enough.

So, yes: I’m a pessimist. And enough of this “just look on the bright-side” shit. I’ve spent many an hour talking about how you can’t tell a depressed person to “just be happy!”, so why do people keep assuming a pessimistic person can just stop? Start saying only pleasant, optimistic things. Pessimism is a part of my depression. So fuck you for judging it. It’s like judging someone with a bad back for grunting when they stand up.

I’m tired of this attitude towards pessimism. I’m sorry I can’t be happy-go-lucky and positive all the time, I really am. Not for your benefit. For my OWN benefit. If I could be optimistic and see the world as cotton candy and fluffy bunnies, I’d be all the better for it. But I cannot. It’s not a decision I make when I wake up in the morning.

And I’m not obligated to keep myself in check because you don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear a lot of things I hear every single day. I don’t wanna hear about your religion. I don’t wanna hear your political opinions. I don’t want to hear about your shitty kids. But I let you say what you want to say. I let you be who you are. I don’t expect people to change the very essence of their being for my benefit. So I’d expect the same treatment.

So next time you want to ridicule someone for their “pessimistic, negative outlook” remember that that may be all they have. For a lot of people, it’s not enjoyable to be surrounded by things that make you sad, hurt, scared, angry, and hopeless. And sometimes vocalizing it is all we can do to keep from being completely crushed by the bleakness that forms in our line of sight.

If you really want a pessimist to be optimistic: give them a reason to be. Be a positive influence in front of them, and maybe they won’t keep seeing terrible shit all the time. But if you’re going to bark at them and talk down to them: they’re just gonna see another negative. And that’ll just add to the thing you’re yelling about.

Culturing The Turn-Around – How We Turn The Bullied Into Bullies


Let me start by saying that before you read my blog here, please take a moment to read this article by Matt LeMay. It’s a great read and raises a bunch of excellent points I don’t feel are emphasized enough these days. It’s also the focus of what I wanted to talk about today.

Setting aside the focus on tech industry employees that this is mainly about, I wanted to talk instead about a more broad point that I feel is important. The concept that we tell those who are outcasts, bullied and made fun of, as children that some day, they will be the ones on top. It’s done in a very unhealthy way that perpetuates a violent system that got us in this mess in the first place.

To simplify this point in the beginning, let’s look at the typical structuring of High School Cliques. The Jock vs. Nerd concept that is pounded into our heads as a means of conflict in media. As mentioned in Matt’s article, we are often told growing up that “you may be missing out now, but when you’re older…”. That when we’re older, the bullies will lose and we will win. Because that’s how we view it: as a competition. And women and money and jobs are the prizes.

This, of course, is fed by our society having a skewed status system. That having certain things mean you have succeeded in life more than someone else. You have more money, a bigger house, a more attractive mate. You have bigger muscles, and a prettier smile. You have more people serving you. You’re the boss! You’re the MAN!

At least, that’s what we’re told.

The problem is: that’s what breeds these bullies in the first place. That their hot girlfriend and their bigger muscles, their position as captain of the football team or their large group of friends, makes them more successful than you. That’s what they use to bully nerds. Their status, their power, their “success”.

I’ve written about adult bullies before, and how a lot of it mirrors the oft-mentioned “High School Jock” concept we parade around. And that’s what this article seems to be talking about: the fact we tell kids “someday, YOU will earn the power and status that lets YOU be the one to laugh at other people!”. We’re basically saying that someday, you’ll get the right to be the bully yourself. And that’s just not ok.

We put too much weight on adequacy, or at least what we define as being a sign of adequacy. And because of that, we use things like your job or your house or your bank account as a means to compare and contrast people. The “someday, that bully will be washing your car!” is just a way of shaming people who wash cars for a living. Saying they’re lesser people. In other words: you’re bullying people based on their status. By telling kids they’ll be above lesser jobs someday, you’re just pissing in the face of everyone with lesser jobs, or less money, or a less attractive partner. You’re perpetuating the very thing that made this kid bullied in the first place, and you’re just filling their head with the disgusting nature of our world. You’re continuing the cycle of status-based comparing and bullying we see every day.

And yes, in this scenario, women are often pushed around as being one of those prizes, one of those status symbols. One of those material objects you get to collect to show your worth. Sure, the jock is getting laid by the cheerleaders now, but you’ll have all the pussy you can fuck when you’re a rich, successful genius! The expectation that is pushed into our brains is that when you get status and power, when you become successful, you’re gonna get the girls! You’ll be the most desirable person in the world! No girl is gonna want that washed-up jock who works as a garbage man, but they’ll want you in your expensive suit and tie and big house.

It’s sexist for a number of reasons. The first obviously being the use of women as trophies. The second is that it shuts down any thoughts that women may want more than just money and status in their mates. That they couldn’t find someone who, using the last example, is a garbage man a good person. It’s the Caste system at work. The “Untouchables”. And the funny thing is, we then turn around and berate women for being gold-diggers. “She’s just dating him for his money and status!”. Well, that’s what you told HIM he should expect! So why are you demonizing HER for going along with YOUR fucked up plan? It’s the same thing we do when we expect women to fuck, but if they fuck too much, they’re filthy whores. We want to make sure women can’t win no matter what, as long as we get them in the end.

Bullying is not ok. But the last way to combat bullying is by empowering the behavior. By telling the bullied they can be the bullies someday. It just doesn’t do anything but create the adult bully system we have in this society these days. We need to stop acting like adequacy is something that can be measured.

The last little thing I wanted to get into is the neglect of bullies in this situation. I know it’s odd to say, but we mistreat bullies badly. The first instinct is to demonize. To turn them into all-bad monsters. Comic book villains. They’re just terrible bad guys who need to be CRUSHED. You have to STAND UP to the bully and DEFEAT HIM!

In media, this is often seen when the nerd being bullied does something to publicly humiliate the bully. They punch the bully in the face. They make him pee himself. Some form of public humiliation. It usually has that scene where the whole school is laughing at the bully and the bullied gets to walk away and wink at the cute girl. “I defeated the bad guy”.

No, odds are you just further hurt someone that is suffering from mental health problems.

While it’s not ALWAYS the case, bully behavior is usually caused by various mental health concerns. This person could be in an abusive household with horrible parents. This person could feel inadequate and bad about themselves, and therefore tries to make other people look worse than them to make up for it. This person could be compensating for confusion. A lot of it is brought on by abuse or poor societal pressures. We see this a lot in sexuality-based bullying.

I want to make a statement right now before finishing this, because it’s always important to say. I mention this a lot, and it deserves repeating.

Mental health issues are an EXPLANATION, not an EXCUSE.

I am not excusing the bully behavior here. I’m not saying “it’s ok for them to be bullies because they’re depressed”. What I’m saying is: we need to recognize there may be a darker reason they act this way. And we need to help them in order to stop them from being horrible. Mental health issues can cause you to act poorly, and we need to recognize and help those people instead of demonize them and attack them. They need help, not to be defeated. That will do nothing but make matters worse. Turn them into bigger bullies, or worse: ’cause them to give into their depression completely.

We continuously breed bullies in our culture, in a number of ways. We ignore causation. We perpetuate adequacy-measuring and unhealthy status-based reward systems. We objectify, we demonize, and we make everything about “get yours in the end!”. We make this a fictional story of good vs. evil, instead of a reality with complex people who should have complex reasoning, and a better reason to live than just what society dictates equates to success.

Don’t perpetuate the bullying, and try to understand there is no “evil” in this story. There is a person that needs to be addressed as such. Not defeated like a monster. Shaming and abusing bullies does nothing but hurt people. Even if you think they “deserve” it for what they’ve done. That doesn’t help anything. And that doesn’t make YOU a good person.

We need to address bullied children to feel comfortable and good as they are, not as they “will be” when they “win” in the future. And that starts with how we view status and power. How we treat people as PEOPLE, not as different degrees of success.

And for fuck’s sake: women are not a REWARD for men who win.

Generalization Is The Worst Way To Deal With Mental Illness


So, this was posted by someone on my Facebook feed tonight. Like most “Like This. Share This. Repost This” stuff on Facebook, it was generally misguided and made me cringe. But I only bring this one up because it’s about mental health and suicide and points to a lot of common misconceptions about these topics. Here is the image in question, do ignore the spelling and grammar errors, it’s important enough to spread the word, but not important enough to spend much time on making sure it’s correctly written.

misrepresentation of depression

Let me start by saying it’s not a bad message. It’s a decent enough gesture. However, it’s a gross misunderstanding of mental health and suicide. And one that is pretty common. Part of it ties into my “it’s more than just a case of the sads” point I’ve made in multiple other blogs on this site. But let’s pick it apart, first.

The first thing I take issue with is how calm and rational they make a suicidal person seem. They treat it like it’s the same level of decision making as picking what you’d like to have for lunch. That you just wake up one morning and go “Well, guess I’m going to kill myself today”. Suicide and depression are not always something that is controlled and easy to work with. You may not even have the physical strength or mental capacity at your lowest to even think about writing things down. Keeping a clear head. Suicide is desperation. Desperation does not come at a time when you can sit down and contemplate things rationally. It just doesn’t.

My next issue comes with the “make a list of the things that make you happy”. And if I can’t? There are days where NOTHING makes me happy. At my lowest, I question if I’m even capable of happiness. Some of the things that I thought I take joy in seem trite and meaningless, devoid of any worth in my existence. There are days when I’m pretty sure the part of my brain that manufactures happiness is completely broken.

There is a common misconception in how mental health issues are handled here. A lot of people will respond to depression with “but look how good you have it” or “but what about all the people who care about you and all the great things in your life?”. Part of depression is feeling detached from those things. While you may recognize and accept love and happiness in your life, a person with mental health issues may not be able to. It may seem distant or fake, or at it’s worst not even there. In a depressed person’s mind, there may literally be nothing that makes them happy. Nothing that is “worth living for”. Telling a depressed person to just think of happy things doesn’t take into account how near-impossible that can be.

There is no “making a list of things that make you happy” when you’re suicidal. Believe me, I know. I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts by trying exactly that. For me personally, it’s almost always followed up with thoughts like “just another thing for me to fuck up” or “but what about all the things that made me happy that aren’t there anymore”. These aren’t conscious decisions. You don’t choose to have these thoughts. It’s something that plagues your attempts at seeing good, being happy. That’s what depression can do. It can make you lose sight of everything you should be happy with. Proud of. Feel love from.

So yes, I take issue with this “things that make you happy” list. Because a lot of depressed people can’t process that information at their lowest. Hell, some can barely see it at any point. This does not help anyone, and all it does is make people feel broken, and much, much worse about themselves.

The same goes for constantly “reminding” yourself, as this list suggests. You can tell me over and over that I have something to live for, that people love me and I do good things. That will not register sometimes. No matter how many times you repeat it. Depression does not have ears. It does not have eyes. All it has is feelings. And feelings don’t care how many times you tell me to “just think of the good things”.

Now, let’s address that final paragraph. First, the “as long as you hold on to what makes you happy, you can hold on to life”. As stated above, mental health issues don’t work that way. This is basically saying “and if you CAN’T hold on to anything that makes you happy, or if there isn’t anything to hold on to, you might as well give up”. That’s what that reads to a depressed person who is having trouble feeling these feelings you’re telling them to force themselves to feel. It’s not always an option, let alone such an easy one to just jump into, to “hold on” to things that make you happy. So what does that say about my ability to hold on to life?

The final part is about all the things you’ll “miss out” on if you kill yourself. The thing you didn’t get to do. The person you didn’t get to tell how you feel. The family, etc. This is just another gross misunderstanding of the mind of people with severe mental illnesses. You may not have the energy or the passion to want to do anything at all. You may not feel any sort of feelings or closeness to another human being. At the time, you may feel as though you’re incapable of love. Of feeling something towards someone. Or you may feel as though you’re not worthy of being loved back. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being good enough. These kinds of “you’ll miss out on love!” statements completely ignore all the problems people with mental illness deal with when it comes to things like that.

For me personally? I’m petrified of bringing other people into my life. Barely capable of making friends past general acquaintances because I’m scared shitless of disappointing people. Of hurting people with the dark thoughts that are out of my control. Of scaring people or pushing them away or lashing out at them. These are all very real fears. And they’re all very, very hard to even BEGIN to just IGNORE.

You can feel like you don’t belong. Like you aren’t worth someone’s time. That you’re just gonna get in the way. These don’t just get shaken off. Telling someone who’s suicidal they’ll miss out on things that don’t even think they’re capable of doing, or could ever be healthy enough to even THINK about, doesn’t help them at all.

Depression. Is. More. Complicated. Than. That!

The same thing goes for the crack about cutting yourself. I have never cut myself, nor have I ever even considered cutting myself. Not every depressed person cuts. Just because that’s the most apparent and visible (among teenagers, especially) doesn’t make it the way everyone acts. Cutting is part of a subgroup of mental illness. If that’s your view of suicide and depression, cutters, you’ve got a very narrow view of how widespread and different depression really is. Please do not include things like that, it’s very demeaning and disrespectful.

The last line seals it for me though, and it’s one of the most frustrating things about mental health and depression. Something I can’t emphasis enough…

Don’t kill yourself because I promise it gets better, I’ve been where you are and I know.

No. No you have not.

You have not been where I am. You have been where you were. Please stop generalizing depression like it’s the common cold. There are variations. Levels of depression. No one’s depression is the exact same monster. No one’s life is the exact same. By generalizing depression, you’re taking the complexity out of something that is so far beyond simple summary. You have no idea how different a depressed person can feel from another depressed person.

The worst possible way to approach depression is by comparing yourself to the person in question. By saying “well, I got over MY depression, so you’ll be fine!”. This is a complete disregard for the person you’re talking to. You’re not talking to THEM, you’re now talking at them. You’re treating them like a puzzle, and not a complex human being with their own thoughts and own feelings. Some people have lower lows. And some have higher highs. Some people are highly functional with their depression while others are left listless and empty, completely incapable of continuing with their lives in any functional way.

Depression isn’t the same for everyone. Please don’t act like it is.

At it’s base, this isn’t a bad thing. It doubtfully was done with any sort of malice or ill intent. But it is a scary, ignorant thing to write. It disregards the complexity and variances in depression and mental illness, and it can do more damage than harm because of that. It can alienate the very people it is out to help.

The first steps towards helping someone with mental illness is to listen, not to talk. This is talking, and it shows our cultures lack of listening. Please think twice before you just send stuff like this around. It may be doing way more harm than you think.