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Of Depression, and Trees, and a Few Things in Between

Over one million people commit suicide every year. That's enough people to fill Madison Square Garden
over nine hundred thousand times. For every person who succeeds, there are at least 20 attempts.
Approximately 20% of people who attempt suicide are diagnosed with major depression or bipolar
disorder. Many more go undiagnosed, unknown, and unseen. But just because you cannot see
something doesn't mean it's not there. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses needs to be destroyed,
because people who struggle with these everyday should not have to be afraid of asking for help.

Depression is a mood disorder that is often described as a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can have
a hugely negative impact on how you live your life. Many people don't take mental illnesses like
depression seriously, and some are even skeptics, choosing to believe that it’s a made-up condition
used just for lazy and overly-dramatic teenagers. The fact that there may be no physical symptoms on
the body, for certain critics is proof enough that depression is “all in your head”. Technically, yes. Your
brain is in your head, and your brain is an organ that can get sick like any other. A mental illness can be
just as a devastating as any other sickness, if not more. Therefore, it must be thought of as such. You
may not lose a limb from depression, but you can lose your drive, your passion, your will to live. It may
be invisible but it is still there, a black shadow that hangs over your shoulder and covers your face and
chokes your thoughts. But since no one else can see this cloud, it can't exist - right?

Here’s a question you’ve all probably heard: "​If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it,
does​ it make a sound?" Scientifically the answer is yes, of course, sound is not created by the human
ear, merely interpreted. But the question does not demand an answer, scientific or philosophical; it
laments the loss of nature, of life. In the end it doesn't matter if there truly were sound or not, the tree is
dead either way.

Now I beg of you to ponder this - ​If a teenager with depression cries out for help and nobody around
listens, did they speak at all? Or is their problem a figment of the imagination? Will they too, like the

tree, be gone by the time anyone decides to care? Mental illnesses aren't "excuses" for millennials to
be lazy. They're not signs of weakness. Like any other illness, they need to be treated.

Depression isn't something you can just get over, or snap out of, as is often said to people who suffer
from it. You may hear it from well-meaning friends, relatives, acquaintances: "Have you just tried…
y'know... not being sad? It's only in your head.", or variations upon the infamous, "Just get over it.".
You wouldn't tell someone going through chemotherapy, "Hey, had you tried… not being sick
anymore?". You wouldn't say to an amputee, "If you stay positive then I'm sure you'll get your leg back!"
Yet people diagnosed with depression are expected to just get over their illness.

Often times online you see these people who declare their social media site a "self-care" blog; a cute
pastel background with all these adorable, nice tips to get over your mental illness. Colour a picture! Go
for a walk! Treat yourself! You'll feel better! Self-care should be inclusive, it should reflect the people who
often find themselves needing it the most. "Take a shower. Drink water. Don't forget to take your meds,
and empty the trash." These are things you don't often see being given as advice. The lifestyle gurus
who reign over our society today love to romanticize misery. They're seen as heroes for 'helping' those
who battle mental illness, when really they're leading a whole new kind of stigma, painting the image that
those who suffer from depression are helpless, preaching the message that a comfy sweater and a cup
of organic tea will cure you. This trivializes a legitimate sickness, treating it as like a bad day, a quirk,
something conjured by the mind that can be avoided by merely acting as if it weren't there.

Depression must be taken seriously as an illness. Because that's what it is - it can be life-threatening. 4
out of 5 people who try to attempt suicide say they dropped clear hints and signs beforehand, which
were not taken seriously. Mental illness can affect anyone. Instead of denying that, it's time we accept
that, and resolve the issue of stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses. If a diseased
tree in a silent forest falls, it crushes all plants and life where it lands regardless of whether or not
anyone is present. Consider the sickness, and while you're at it, consider this. Depression is not a
figment of the imagination, or a sign of weakness. Eradicate those notions - catch the tree before it
lands. We have no reason to continue letting mental illness take lives of those around as as easily as it
does. - http://www.php http://www.full#ref-5 http://toronto.html http://bmb.oxfordjournals.