Depression: Do You Have A Choice?

What do you see when you look at this picture?

I see it that we have a choice to be sad or to be happy.

It might have been an untimely coincidence, but this picture popped up on my Facebook feed the day Robin Williams died. Upon checking the original Facebook page, I noticed it wasn’t actually posted on that day, it just happened to be shared on my feed on that day.

As someone who has suffered from depression, I am here to tell you, depression is not a choice. Choosing to be happy does not make depression go away.

I’ve heard everyone talking about how great Robin Williams was. How funny, talented, clever. I’ve heard and seen people listing, and debating with others, their favourite Robin Williams movies.

What I’m NOT hearing is people talking about depression. I’m not hearing people talk about suicide. I’m not hearing people talk about how it doesn’t matter how good your life may look from the outside, on the inside it could all be falling completely apart. And no matter how much you might want to put the pieces back together, you feel like there is no point. Like it is hopeless.

I’ve seen people plead for those feeling suicidal to reconsider, as it is not something that just affects you, but your family and friends too. Easy for someone who has never been suicidal to say. I’m not saying I have been suicidal. But I have been in the depths of depression and wondered if it would be easier to crash into the light post than keep driving. At that stage, I was able to think about the rest of the people that would hurt.

Further down into the depths of depression, I don’t think that clarity exists. In those depths, the people you love are better off without you. The easier option – the ONLY option – is to end everything, rather than to face it. At that point, the decision to make the choice to be happy does not exist.

My husband sees it as we have a choice to sit and stare at the mountain, or sit and enjoy the view. Maybe this picture was meant to be that simple. But given the coinciding news, it struck me so much deeper. It reminded me that there is still a stigma around depression. It reminded me that people who have never been through it will never understand it. And it reminded me that if I ever find myself on the mountain side of the bus again, I’ll be much faster to ask someone to help me to the view side.

What do you see? Did you watch your favourite Robin Williams movie last night?

Did you talk to someone about depression and suicide? 


9 thoughts on “Depression: Do You Have A Choice?

  1. Yes not much has been said about depression, well at least not today anyhow. There was a bit on ABC last night. I’m still in shock, and sad. When I have PMS it’s seriously like I am depressed for two days, and I mean nothing will shake or fix it, no matter what is said, but thankfully my hormones change and my mood lifts. When I had PMS last month it struck me that for those with depression that feeling never goes away and it was very sobering indeed 😦

  2. Sad but true, we still aren’t having the right dialogue surrounding this.

    And you know what, I had a really long and personal comment here which I deleted. Why is it so hard to “come out” about this? Why a, I ashamed to open up? Oh that’s right, because I’ve got my shit together.


  3. I must admit my eye immediately went to the dark side of the picture, before I even read the question. It seems deeper and it draws you in. I must admit I don’t know a whole lot about depression, but I can definitely see how the more we talk about it, the more people will know that it’s ok to ask for help. More than ok.

  4. I’ve suffered from depression too and you are very right – depression is not a choice. It is an awful black hole that is very hard to crawl out of. You cannot simply flick the switch to ‘happy’. It does need to be talked about much, much more. The stigma needs to be removed completely and several things need to take place for that happen, including talking about it and educating people about it. Don’t just refer depressed people to Lifeline. Educate yourself on how to help them!! Simple things can lift their mood from a suicidal one to a depressed but not suicidal one – eg just listening to them, letting you know that you care and that they are loved, watching a movie with them, taking them a meal, simple things!! The scary thing is that depression is becoming SO much more common now. What is going on in our world to cause this?? Something needs to change! Everyone knows at least one person who has had depression. That never used to be the case! One thing I think would help people with depression not to feel so ashamed and stop them trying to hide their depression and not seeking help is to remove the term MENTAL ILLNESS from our health system and vocabularly all together. Let’s come up with different terminology! MENTAL ILLNESS – that is where the stigma stems from. What do people think of when they hear the word MENTAL – hmm? Thanks for talking about this Aroha. 🙂 xo

  5. I agree that depression isn’t a choice, not something you can “snap out of”. I am seeing a lot of talk about depression this week, lots and lots, which is a good thing, even the misguided talk, because it gives the opportunity to educate. I am hopeful that every time anyone takes the time to read a post like this, or to think a little deeper, we are a step closer to a more cohesive, supportive society. The fact is depression exists, it’s a chemical imbalance, and is totally pervasive. No-one tells someone with diabetes to just “snap out of it” or to just focus on the healthy side of life.
    I absolutely agree with Minsmash – we need to remove the term “mental health” from the equation. by it’s very wording it implies that “it’s all in the mind” and therefore within control. (I too have a husband who just does not understand, who thinks depression is “giving in” or choosing to wallow, despite having witnessed my own struggles)

  6. I’ve had depression and it felt easy enough to ‘justify’ because it was wrapped around infertility and lots of failed IVF, which as you know, is pretty hard stuff. But the truth is I’ve felt ‘depressed’ since and I’ve understood that it is much more insidious than treating any sort of ’cause and effect’. Even if you look at it in terms of choice, I can’t see anyone choosing to be depressed, so that really invalidates that argument. I think the best thing is when we start to feel low, we choose then to try to do things, get help, get support from our family, before it gets to the depths where choice doesn’t even come into it.

  7. No I don’t think it’s a choice. Interestingly though, I was having a conversation with a lady today whose suffered and we both agreed that now we are more aware, and can feel ourselves going down that path, and make changes to stave it off. But it’s not easy to do so, and once you’ve reached a certain point, you’re so deep in it, you can’t do just focus on the good.
    It’s a personal thing too depression; does anyone feel the same? And whilst done people might heal faster by looking at the view, others won’t. It’s definitely not clear cut.

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