I am depressed.
This is not something I try to hide, or shy away from. This is a part of me, something I deal with every day, just like someone putting on glasses, or managing an autoimmune disorder. But people don’t cringe when I tell them I have Celiac Disease. People don’t cringe when I tell them that I just can’t eat gluten.
So then why do people cringe when I tell them I’m depressed? It’s the same thing. Not only am I depressed, but I’m treating it. So why is it a big problem when I tell them that I can’t eat gluten, and I also can’t get out of bed some mornings? At least I can take medications for my depression. I can’t treat my Celiac Disease.
I personally think it’s because depression can be crippling. It does cause me to have to stay in bed some days. It does cause me some trouble most days, even though I am treating it as well as I can.
My Depression rears its ugly head quite often, and it follows me around, trailing Anxiety on a leash.
They both ask me questions all day, begging for my attention, begging for me to treat them as way more important than everything, and everyone, else in my life.
I have to fight Depression and Anxiety every day.
So, arguably, it’s not as normal as putting on glasses. Once people put on glasses, they don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.
I have to fight not to eat a bagel every day. I have to fight not to go the easy route and eat burritos and pasta and sandwiches every single day. Some days, it’s harder to fight my Celiac Disease than it is to fight my Depression.
Once I’m out of bed, I’ve already won a fight against my depression.
And I can avoid it during the day – I keep myself busy on a tight schedule, I carry around a planner, I have a stress rock in my backpack. It is nearly impossible to avoid gluten though. I have to walk by a bagel place to get to some of my classes. My friends and classmates are constantly (unknowingly) taunting me with their cupcakes and PB&J’s.
If my Celiac Disease is harder for me to cope with than my depression, why is there a mental health stigma? Why isn’t there a stigma around Celiac Disease? Why don’t people cringe when I turn down a piece of their pizza because I don’t want to be sick for the rest of the week?
To me, there is little difference between my Celiac Disease and my depression. I battle with both every day, all day. I fight the urge to stay in bed with the same effort with which I fight the urge to eat a donut. I diligently treat my depression with medication and self-care the same way I treat my Celiac Disease with good eating habits and smart choices.
I’m just curious as to why one makes people cringe, and the other just makes people apologize.
Featured Image via Wildgypsypirate.