When someone dies by suicide, condolences pour in both online and offline. People grieve the loss of the deceased individual via statements like, "If only they had reached out to me before taking this step, I would have helped them." Unfortunately, this is untrue. It is trendy to pay lip service to mental health (or the lack thereof). Whether it's organizations or individuals, #MentalHealthMatters as long as it doesn't inconvenience anyone. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Causes of Depression
"Ghosting" is the act of abruptly cutting off all contact with another person without warning, of disappearing from their life without explanation and without a trace. It has been characterized as a cruel and cowardly practice that has a devastating impact on the "ghostee," but I would counter that in some cases, ghosting is the only way to distance yourself from a toxic and unhealthy relationship and the only way to safeguard your mental health when no alternative presents itself.
The iceberg theory is a frequently cited model of behavior which states that a person's behavior can only be properly understood in the context of the factors that caused it. What a person does is "the tip of the iceberg"-- what we don't see are the emotional, social, cultural, and other factors that lie beneath the surface and cause that behavior.
Childhood bullying caused me to have a fairly miserable time at school. I was bookish, physically inept and socially awkward. Add to that the headgear and a built-up shoe, and you had a sight that would make any school bully drool.
Fact: depression is not always clinical. Sometimes, it occurs not due to changes in the brain but because of a difficult life situation. I know this because I have experienced both clinical depression and situational depression over the years. And although their causes are different, they have similar effects, effects that make life harder than usual.
Here's the thing: I had trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long before the pandemic; it's one of the reasons my depression is chronic. In my opinion, the pandemic has led to PTSD even in people who haven't contracted COVID-19. I say this with confidence because it's the reason my PTSD has become more intense since last year, and as a member of mental health groups, I have seen people exhibiting PTSD symptoms. And yes, one of the symptoms of PTSD is depression.
If 2020 was a terrible year for you and it made your depression worse, please know that you are not alone. Even as a mental health blogger with nearly two decades of lived experience, the past year has been one of the roughest years of my life.
I recently went on a social media break -- no doomscrolling, no aggravating my depression -- and it felt great. Social media is where I get most of my news, and given that the world seems to be falling apart these days, it was a relief to get away from doomscrolling.
Nobody is immune to the pressure to succeed. Whether it comes from family, teachers, bosses, or ourselves, the pressure to "achieve" is something we have all felt. It's not necessarily a bad thing: pressure (or your perception of it) can give you a competitive drive, the impetus to keep going when you feel like giving up, and it can result in great things, both professionally and personally. However, when that pressure to succeed becomes so intense that you lose sight of everything else, it's time to pump the brakes and reevaluate your priorities. Sure, success is great, but not when it comes at the expense of your mental health.
It's been nearly seven months of a dreary, dystopian existence, and this pandemic is worsening my depression. Ever since March 2020, life as we know it has changed forever. Living in this pandemic has been dubbed "the new normal," but there is nothing normal about it.