What They Don't Tell You About Mental Illness
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Why Elizabeth Medina, Former Miss America’s TedTalk is so Important
When we think about depression, we often assume that those who struggle with this mental illness aren’t normally functioning people. We often think of dark bedrooms, puffy eyes, and emotionless faces; but the reality is that many people who suffer from depression lead normal, functioning lives. Those who suffer probably have a job, or children, or a caring family and caring friends, or attend school even while they continue to suffer. Depression isn’t always obvious. Elizabeth Medina provides a valuable Ted Talk that explains her experience with depression and receiving treatment, and debunks some of the common misconceptions that surround depression.
It Could be Anyone
As Elizabeth explains, anyone can be suffering from depression. Something very common for people with depression to hear is “you have a great life, why would you be depressed?”. But there doesn’t always have to be a reason for people to suffer from depression, they still suffer just the same. Elizabeth explains that when she attended group therapy after being hospitalized for depression, she was surprised by how normal and high functioning everyone in her group was. This goes to show how anyone can struggle with mental illness, even the people that you least expect, which is why it’s so important to check in on your friends and family no matter how happy they may seem.
There are Ways to Help
Towards the end of her Ted Talk, Elizabeth discusses how we can help those who struggle with depression, but also how while trying to help, we can also sometimes make it worse for those who suffer. It’s very important to be mindful of what you say when talking about mental illness with someone, as it takes a lot of courage to even bring up the subject for individuals who are struggling. Saying things like “you should be more positive”, “just snap out of it”, or “you have nothing to be depressed about” only hinder rather than help. It’s impossible to just “snap out of” depression. Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder, and isn’t just about being sad or lonely. It can lead to a large variety of physical and emotional problems. There is no quick fix to depression, so telling someone who is depressed to “snap out of it” can and will only make the situation worse.
Instead, to help someone who is suffering from depression, Elizabeth tells us that it’s important to be open and honest, as well as providing the individual with a solid support system. As Elizabeth explains, you can say all you want that you are there to help, but it’s also important to actually follow up with doing so. Check in every once in a while, make yourself available to talk or get together, and prove that you are a reliable source of support. This can really help individuals who are struggling, as you will be able to show whoever is struggling that they are not alone.
Elizabeth Medina’s Ted Talk provides many important points and experiences that explain the truth behind mental illness. Depression is not always what it’s been depicted as. Anyone can suffer, from any array of reasons, or for no specific reason at all. Let us join together and become the support systems that our friends and family need, helping those with depression to know that they are never alone.
“Nobody knew that I was suffering from depression. Nobody knew that the entire year that I was experiencing was basically turbulence, and I was going through turmoil up until the point that I didn’t quite want to die but I definitely didn’t want to live anymore.” - Elizabeth Medina
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