I was once told that depression was a privilege. To be able to express one’s feelings without judgment from the surrounding community is an exclusive right of the affluent, I was told.
I suffer from depression, and as a white man from a middle-class family, I had resources at my fingertips. I had school counselors, therapists, and doctors who could prescribe me medication. Depression was and is still a challenge, no doubt, but these resources, along with the support of my family and friends (my mother also suffers from clinical depression) made the road much smoother.
This is not the case in all communities. Many cultures dismiss any discussion of “feelings” or “sadness” because they are (supposedly) signs of weakness. Men must be strong, and strength has no room for sadness or depression.
In addition, many people lack the financial means to receive support. Depression can be viewed as a frivolous condition, for which expensive treatments are not necessary. But depression is a mental issue dealing with chemicals in the brain. It is as serious as any other medical condition, and must be treated.
Groups like The Each-Other Project, with their #DearDepression campaign, are working to bridge these disparities. By broadcasting the prevalence of depression, they are breaking through cultural misconceptions around the illness and garnering support for those who suffer from it.
It was a strange way to say it, but depression certainly is a privilege. Support should be available to everyone who suffers from it, regardless of race, gender, creed, or sexual orientation. It should be taken seriously, and The Each-Other Project is helping to create that understanding.