Depression across the spectrum

Dec. 3, 2014

By Amber Levenhagen

I’m not a stranger to death. Not to sound morbid, but it’s been a small part of my life. I’m not sure if part of it is due to the rumored curse of my high school, but it seems every year like clockwork someone I know has passed.

With the recent death of a woman I went to high school with, who also attended UW-Whitewater, I’ve been left thinking something that hasn’t crossed my mind before.

Why is mental illness  such a taboo topic?

Whenever I hear of someone committing suicide, the conversation always seems to go the same way. The typical condolences come through – which is always nice and legitimately appreciated – then someone will say how the person lost didn’t seem like the type to struggle with depression.

But what exactly does that mean? Is depression truly connected to only one type of person?

It’s upsetting how that stigma is still on mental illness, and shocking to some that the cool, popular kids can be depressed.

When comedian Robin Williams killed himself it shook me up and reaffirmed my thoughts on this topic. Even a man who was able to make an immeasurable amount of people happy struggled with clinical sadness.  Depression and suicide exist away from the kids that are considered the outsiders.

If more people talked about depression, would it make a difference? Would it help the people struggling?

I’m not an expert on mental illness, but through the experiences I’ve lived, I can’t help but wonder why this stigma is still held on to. If it wasn’t so taboo to be depressed, to feel alone even though you have a strong group of friends, would people still be afraid to reach out for help?

The negative stigma placed on admitting to mental illness could be related to why many people don’t seek help. And that is beside the fact breaking away from friendships is part of the disease.

I can’t help but  feel if it weren’t shameful to admit to needing help, more people could be saved. The first step to solving the problem is admitting that there is one, but if you feel like you have nobody to admit it to, what happens then?

I don’t mean to bring you down by writing this, my only goal is to make you think. What would depression look like if we stopped putting a face on it?

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide contact the Walworth County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-365-1587, National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or call 911.

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