Depression Army Strong: The Revolution Starts with Us
Written by Melanie Rosler
My alarm clock forces its way into whatever nightmare I’m having. It’s always a nightmare. My body goes into panic mode before I recognize the sound. I wake up. I get ready for class, work, research, or whatever else I have forced into my schedule to seem competitive enough for graduate school. But let me be honest for once: It’s to keep myself distracted and drained so I don’t even have the energy to think or feel past my to-do list as my head hits the pillow at night. As I’m adding that last layer of mascara on my short lashes, I think of a million different reasons not to start my day but by the time I open the front door and the sun slams into my face, the smile is set and just like that, the flawless girl everyone sees emerges again.
Getting compliments on my fashion sense, my makeup, my body, my good grades, and my “Intern of the Month” award on my desk are all part of a mask I’ve been perfecting for years. They weigh on me every single day, reminding me that this is who I’ve decided to be in the world. The mask gets heavier, as I paint yet another layer onto it and sometimes it gets so heavy I lie to get out of responsibilities, to give my real self a rest. I’ve always been a terrible liar. My father said he hated liars and I knew better than to disobey him. So, I fake being sick for a day, just a couple of hours, to hide between my sheets and sleep. Then I pretend to be all better again. “Just a bad cold,” I tell them. I can’t tell them the truth. Who would believe a girl who seemingly has it all suffers from severe depression?
The truth is that depression does not discriminate. It does not care about money, beauty, or smarts. It will chip away at your core, little by little each day. Your only break comes from the tears and screams you muffle with loud, upbeat pop music while you take a scalding shower every night. But, who would believe my real story? Who would believe that my father would physically abuse my mom and I even before I was born? Who would believe that I had a severe medical condition as a child that led to years of bullying? Who would believe the first guy I trusted after a terrible break up with my cheating boyfriend led to rape? No one would because I’m bound by the image I’ve created, and too scared of society’s lies about depression to pull back the mask and reveal my imperfect self. “Everyone goes through hard times. It’s life. You just have to build a bridge and get over it.”
But who actually has the courage to pull back the mask? To shatter the lies? How do we change an entire society’s view of one of the most prevalent mental illnesses plaguing our world? It all starts with a cause, an idea, a movement.
Social movements have spanned much of our human history, stemming from reactions to racism, sexism, and homophobia. Blacks, women, and gays were seemingly isolated in a world where so many of us shared their pain and isolation, just like the millions of us that suffer through depression every single day. These social movements are able to bring like-minded individuals together to fight off the stigma attached to being “different.” Although the war for equality in all domains continues, had it not been for these social movements, blacks would not have seen the end of segregation, women would not be working alongside men, and gays would not have enjoyed the freedoms of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
I believe depression deserves its own social movement. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race, gender and sexual preference. It can leave us feeling isolated and misunderstood, even from those closest to us. Depression can even drive us to take our own life. It’s time for the world to remove its blinders and see depression for what it is. We’re not a group of “emo” teenagers who are too lazy to do anything. Depression is out of our control and it’s time we address the huge elephant in the room.
Depression does not have to be a taboo topic we shove behind fake smiles. Together, we can find our voices and speak out against the stigma that has silenced us for so long. This is why Depression Army™ was created and why I stand behind it as a firm believer that there is power in numbers.
The Depression Army™ isn’t some “club” who urges you to be happy by “faking it ‘till you make it.” We’re a community of REAL people, sharing our REAL stories. We understand that every story of depression is different and everyone’s unique circumstances are exactly what will make this a social movement. What unites us is how sick and tired we are of having to make excuses for the way we feel, for having to forcibly smile when told to “get over it.” Because we’re NOT over it. Depression still affects 350 million people worldwide so clearly the age-old advice of suppressing your feelings is garbage.
Through social media, the Depression Army™ is currently connecting to thousands around the world. We create original content and encourage our followers to send us their original depictions of depression. Our mission is to bring depressed individuals from all walks of life together, and fight to end the stigma attached to being depressed. How do we start? Talking about it.