So I was not planning on making a video today because I realized that my eyebrows are just like a fucking mess and my eyeliner’s uneven and this is third day hair. And as a feminist, I would say that none of this matters but as the person who’s going to be spending four hours editing this, I know it’s going to bug the shit out of me.
Anyway, I received a particularly troublesome comment on my “12 Things Not To Say To Depressed People” video that I just needed to talk about. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already read this little rant and probably not going to say anything like super different but I felt like I wanted to add onto that a little bit.
So the comment I received said:
Have you actually been diagnosed with clinical depression? I don’t claim to be an expert …” Okay, and then why are you commenting on this, “But from my understanding, it would be extremely atypical of a person diagnosed with clinical depression to make a YouTube video or engage in anything remotely related to a dialogue or a discussion. A lot of people claim to be depressed but they mean they feel bad for whatever reason but that’s not necessarily the same as depression. I myself thought I had depression until a doctor convinced me that this wasn’t the case. So I ask again, have you been diagnosed?
My medical and psychological history is actually none of your business, but yes, I have been clinically depressed. However there are lots of people who suffer from mental illness who never receive a clinical diagnosis for a ton of different reasons.
First off, seeing a doctor or a psychiatrist or a therapist is incredibly expensive if you don’t have medical insurance. Even if you do have insurance, you’re still going to have to pay a copay every visit and that definitely adds up and can be pretty expensive. Not everyone has the means or the funds or the time and ability to go see a medical health professional. Obviously it can be extremely beneficial and I do recommend that you do see a trained professional if you have the ability to but I also think it falls into the realm of shaming people who are unable to receive a diagnosis and saying that they’re faking it.
Also let’s not forget that tons of minors who live with their parents who might dismiss their mental illnesses and refuse to help them go get a diagnosis and see a health care professional.
I received a lot of comments and I’ve heard a lot of stories from teenagers who think they might be suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder who either can’t talk to their parents about it because their parents are really ableist and don’t believe that mental illness is a real issue and they say that they’re faking it or they’re just being overdramatic.
And I’ve heard from a lot of teenagers who have talked to their parents about wanting to see a psychiatrist or a therapist and their parents still refuse to let them go. So if your parents are super ableist, then you’re kind of fucked.
Also, many people have sought help with mental health professionals and they’ve had extremely toxic experiences. I would like to live in a world where therapists and psychiatrists don’t do anything problematic and they’re completely understanding of mental illness and they don’t say anything that’s dismissive or belittling to people’s experiences.
However, this is not the case. There are so many instances of psychiatrists and therapists either shaming their patients or telling them to get over it and not taking their concerns seriously and even the ones that do might not be completely free from problematic and harmful behavior.
A lot of mental health professionals are not educated or well versed in the issues of already marginalized people. There is a lot of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia that can be perpetuated by mental health professionals that aren’t specialized in these areas. Finding a psychiatrist or a therapist that’s right for you is already hard in the first place but if you’re part of one of these marginalized groups, it makes it even harder.
Also there seems to be this idea that you just go to a psychiatrist and they just shoot out a diagnosis for you and it’s a really easy process. I know for me personally that when I went to have my hour-long consultation, which is like your first visit with a psychiatrist, she asked me a lot of questions.
She took a ton of notes and then she started prescribing medications for me without actually telling me what my official diagnosis was. This happened twice because I went to her first for anxiety and then for depression and both times, she didn’t give me a diagnosis until I asked her about it specifically. So while she was really quick to give me medications to try, she didn’t really hand out a diagnosis as easily.
This is directed at the lovely commenter who made me feel the need to rant about this in the first place that there isn’t just one monolithic experience or one type of depression, like not every depressed person is going to have the same symptoms.
Some people experience really, really extreme and major depression and have suicidal thoughts but not everybody does. I have a different kind of depression. It used to be called dysthymia but now I think it’s called persistent depressive disorder and while I don’t have super major depressive episodes, my depression is a lot calmer and spread out over a longer period of time. There’s also bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, there are so many different types of depression and not all depressed people have the same experience.
So to the commenter who even admitted theirself that they’re not an expert, maybe you should just be quiet and keep your shitty opinions to yourself.
And this has been a PSA.
Do you have a friend, family member, co-worker or partner suffering from depression? If you’re a person living on this planet, then chances are you do. You might even be one of the 121 million people across the globe living with depression and are simply fed up with non-mentally ill people giving you less than helpful advice.