Depression is frequently misunderstood as being a feeling or phase that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. The reality however, goes a lot deeper than that. It is a battle which has claimed many lives.
Every day, everyone you meet asks you how you are and the common answer is, “I’m fine”. But for some people, the answer couldn’t be further from the truth.
With the recent death of Korean popstar, Kim Jong-Hyun from the band SHINee who was found unconscious at his home on 18 December 2017, the spotlight is once again on a topic that is often stigmatised within many communities.
Mental illness, depression or any sort of vulnerability is not an on-the-table topic. It is not there for discussion and is often swept under the rug in a society that prizes people who must always characterise a sense of invincibility, achievement and high standards. That is why anyone that falls short or struggles to meet these hypothetical standards quietly breaks on the inside while they attempt to maintain an exhaustive façade of normalcy.
In Kim Jong-Hyun’s farewell note, it was revealed that he also felt, “broken from the inside.”
“The depression that gnawed on me slowly has finally engulfed me entirely.”
This ongoing battle with depression has claimed the lives of many individuals and it is one of the biggest killers of men below the age of 45 in the UK. There are various risk factors associated with the variability and prevalence of depression and other mental health issues—age, gender, marital status, education and income are consistently identified.
The figures from the Samaritans' suicide statistics report of 2017 are harrowing. The recent data gathered from 2015 demonstrates that there were 6639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, with the majority of these deaths being among men aged 40 to 44. Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicides in the UK.
There are no two individuals that will have the same experience with depression as depression is a result of a combination of risk factors that is as variable as the individuals themselves. Common risk factors include economic circumstances, bullying, trauma and genetic predisposition.
Most of the people suffering from depression often describe it as feeling as if any efforts they make are unlikely to succeed. This in turn results in them thinking that they are incapable of moving beyond what they are feeling at present. Consistent low moods, thoughts of suicide, plans of suicide, suicidal attempts and finally death by suicide soon follow.
In order to prevent an individual from taking his or her own life, it is important to first recognise the symptoms of depression and acknowledge that the individual may be at risk. Unfortunately, it is typically impossible for an outsider to detect most symptoms and risks because they are often concealed. Individuals who suffer from depression often cite not wanting to be a burden to others as being the primary reason they are reluctant to express what they are going through.
This is why society needs to step up and do something about depression.
In a world that may seem lonely or unconnected, it is time to choose to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling with an illness that we may not fully understand. In an age of selfies, photoshop and Hollywood perfection, it is time to admit that it is okay to be broken and sad— that our realities are different from our filtered lives.
The key to life is not to never be sad but to navigate our sadness and be there for one another.
“When someone shows you their heart, their past, their wounds, they have entrusted you with the deepest part of themselves. It is the part of themselves that makes them uniquely beautiful. To be trusted in this way is a great honor. Guard that trust with your life.” – Yasmin Mogahed.
The time for change is now, and the only one capable of starting this change is you. So if you know someone who suffers from depression and would like to help them through it, please consider the following:
In the UK, a hospital or clinic is always available as a confidential place to gain support in a crisis.
The Samaritans charity number is available 24 hours, 7 days a week:
116 123 (UK)
116 123 (ROI)
For other countries you can find their number on the website https://www.befrienders.org/.
Note: Photo above by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
Aini Baloch works as a diagnostic radiographer at a hospital and enjoys her job working with patients to obtain high quality x-rays. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She also loves open discussions on interfaith dialogue if it is done to gain insight. She currently holds two degrees and hopes to gain an Order of Merlin, first class one day. She currently resides in the north east of England.