Last night I read a series of tweets by an apparently well known boxer (I’d never heard of him!). He was berating and belittling depression. He appears to be a ‘role model’ to many, with 25k+ followers.
Reading his tweets scared me how someone who so many look up to him is there preaching these ignorant views, berating an already stigmatized area on such a public platform for so many to see. The extra scary thing when reading his comments was how so many people were praising him for saying what he said and ‘speaking up’ (!!).
Just when you feel you are starting to see the conversation to be spoken about a little more, you read something like this and you think ‘WOW” how can so many people out there still be so ignorant and blinkered. So many of us are doing all we can to start the conversations and try and tackle the stigma and then you read something like this. It is really really upsetting and makes my blood boil.
He was telling people to “man up”. Saying depression “doesn’t exist”. He said “depressed people are unhappy with their lives and too lazy to change it’” You know what F#@K that. I am not lazy. I am not unhappy with my life. I am doing everything to change things but that doesn’t stop my brain from telling me otherwise.
I am not going to carry on repeating things he said because it is all such rubbish and shows no understanding. All I can say is he may be physically fighting with someone in the ring.
But those fights end. They end with someone battered and bruised and the winner having their ego massaged for that fleeting moment until they go in for the next fight.
Now, imagine that fighting ring being your head.
The fight is your brain. Your brain however does not have the umpire. Your thoughts are fighting freely with no rules. No-one to say stop. They run on and on and on, endless.
The only ‘umpire’ you have when fighting a mental illness is your own inner strength (and boy does it take a lot of that), therapy or medication where needed. We do not get that prize for daily overcoming and fighting every negative thought or urge to harm ourselves. If we did we would have a hell of a lot of cups and medals but really there is no way we would go voluntarily into another battle just for another prize!!!
Fighting a mental illness is a daily battle from hell. People do not realize, fully, how bad it is unless they experience it – which honestly I would not wish upon my worst enemy as it is the hardest fight you will experience.
Whether this person is doing it for attention or not – airing these views like this on a public platform such as twitter is seriously damaging.
Someone like this (if they were a decent person) could do so much help change peoples views and perceptions of stigmatized issues. Instead he is reinforcing the stigma of something that will affect 1 in 4 people. That is 1 in 4 of the kids who he is a role model to and who they aspire to be like having their thoughts and feelings trampled and invalidated.
People like this may show physical resilience but the mental resilience needed to fight a mental illness is a whole new level. The ability to try and come back and fight with your own head, in an endless battle takes huge mental strength (not just rest and an icepack!!). It takes tremendous courage and determination.
It really got to me. Usually I can let things like this bounce off me – but for some reason I couldn’t with this. I hate that because it is giving this idiot the reaction he wants and is taking up time in my head when I have enough real issues to be dealing with.
I think the reason it had such an effect is that today is world suicide prevention day. The fact there is even a need for this day really shows what a real thing depression and mental illness is. It is something that takes lives. Something where people are made to feel there is no point in living, so they feel the only way to go on is to not go on anymore. Comments like from this man only make these feelings worse for these people.
This ‘man’ should imagine what it would be like for him to give up and stop fighting while he is competing and allow his opponent to just keep beating him up until there is nothing left of him. Just a crumpled mess on the floor with nowhere to turn. This is what depression can feel like – only worse, there is no end and no-one to pick up the pieces.
We must not let the ignorance shown by this man get in the way of us fighting, talking and tackling this stigma. And it most certainly can’t let it make us believe that the feelings and struggles being felt are not real. They are real and someone like this cant make us feel otherwise, and much more importantly we mustn’t it prevent anyone of us from getting help if and when it is needed. There is no shame whatsoever. The only shame that should be felt is of this man that he is so ignorant.