A few months ago I had somewhat of a falling out with a friend due to a meme that he posted on Facebook. If it were just the meme, that would be one thing. But it was my comment and his ensuing attacks on my comment that were biting (WHY????) and completely lacking in empathy that completely turned me off. The meme had a “Just snap out of it” tone. It implied that depression should not be used as a cop out or excuse to not succeed. I can’t post that meme here to help illustrate why it elicited my perturbed and upset reaction, because I don’t recall what exactly the meme said and I wasn’t about to look through months of feeds of this person’s just to find it. If it were just the one meme, then I might have just passed up on it. But it’s a number of things that led up to it. You see, there was history to this.
Have you ever had FB “friends” post things that pop up on your FB feed that grate on your nerves because they reflect just how disparate your ways of thinking really are? Well, this person’s posts made me ponder how we could be friends if we had such different mindsets (e.g., extreme right versus moderate left, women’s reproductive rights, mental health). After a while, I started noticing a trend from his occasional far-off-the-cliff remarks, which really made me think he was a troll (yes, that’s how bad it sometimes got). His remarks showed just how unable he was to be empathic. I have tried to explain on numerous occasions my viewpoint that is from a person who has experienced postpartum depression (PPD) to this person (just as I’ve had to explain to others with similar mindsets as this individual). But it just was not sinking in. There was no getting it. It was like trying to get water out of a rock. At some point, you just have to call it quits. And so I did.
The friendship is still there. I just can’t handle the posts anymore. So, that person is no longer in my Close Friends feed, which I’ve had to resort to, as I’ve mentioned in prior posts. I’m sure others have been in the same position. We all have to pick and choose our battles….prioritize in order to get by each day. There are some FB “friends” who have filtered my posts out since a couple years ago. A couple years ago, I was posting things way more frequently than I am now, and they were about a variety of things (e.g., PPD, bullying, politics, rape, women’s reproductive rights)….essentially, negative news (that is REALITY…what happens out there in the real world that people have a hard time acknowledging) that people go out of their way on a daily basis to avoid because that is their self preservation tactic. Hey, I get it. After all, that’s what I’m doing now with this one individual. I don’t have all of my FB “friends” in my Close Friends feed because they either never, ever post anything on FB or they never, ever interact with me (so what’s the point, right?). Again, priorities.
With this experience, I understand the road before us to educate people on and de-stigmatize depression and other mental health-related matters is EXTREMELY DAUNTING. While there is a very large number of individuals that are active on social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.), speakers who travel the world, and book authors who try to take on this daunting task each day, we still need to make sure we reach everyone–whether they are fighting a battle with depression or other mood disorder, or whether they are like my hard-headed friend who just fails to get it. Everyone is NOT getting the message. IGNORANCE AND STIGMA are to blame for that. The biggest challenge by far in terms of reaching everyone is the fact that there will always be people who hear about experiences and continue to be unable to get it…..either willfully or because they want to but are unable to. The former group will NEVER change their mindsets because they think they know it all; that everyone has the ability to SNAP OUT OF IT; that depression is a choice when in reality it is far from a choice. The latter group is because they have no idea what it’s like to be depressed (like I was before I had PPD) and would like to understand but fail to be able to. I have many friends who fall in this latter category.
Well, this is why if I had the ability to wish something to happen and make it happen, I wish that everyone would experience what it’s like to be depressed (not blue or sad, but truly depressed) one day. ALL IT TAKES IS ONE DAY. It is only then that everyone will truly get it.