Unfortunately, as we often hear from members of The Depression Project's community, when people with depression open up about what they're going through, it's common for them to be called something along the lines of “attention seeking”, or to be told that they’re being “overdramatic”, a “drama queen”, or some variation thereof.
However, in reality, it’s actually almost always the opposite.
Busting The "People With Depression Are Attention Seeking" Myth, Part 1: People With Depression Actually Tend To Hide Their Suffering
Because they tend to be afraid of being judged, criticised, having their illness not taken seriously, and/or because they just don’t know how to articulate their depression clearly, then rather than faking their depression, most sufferers fake being “OK”. In particular, some extremely, extremely common ways people with depression often do this include:
- Smiling on the outside while they’re going through hell on the inside;
- Saying “I’m fine” when they feel miserable, broken, and completely and utterly overwhelmed;
- Saying “I’m busy” when they’re having a mental breakdown;
- Working hard to uphold their responsibilities and trying to appear as if they have everything in their life all together – only to collapse in a heap when they get home;
- Joking and making others laugh because they know what it’s like to feel empty and numb on the inside.
Busting The "People With Depression Are Attention Seeking" Myth, Part 2: The Real Reason People With Depression Open Up About It
Not only do people commonly hide their depression, but because they’re afraid of being judged, criticised, having their illness not taken seriously and/or because they don’t know how to articulate their depression clearly, on the rare occasions that they do open up about it, it's common for them to feel uncomfortable, scared and nervous, and it often takes all the courage they have to bring themselves to do it. And, on these occasions, rather than looking for attention, what they’re actually looking for is usually, for example:
- A sense of safety in a world they find scary;
- A light in their darkest hour;
- A reminder that they’re not alone;
- A reason to keep on fighting through their depression;
- The love they’re currently unable to give themselves;
- A reminder that they’re not all the horrible things their depression is telling them they are;
- Someone who will hopefully understand what they’re going through;
- Reassurance that everything is going to be OK.
Conclusion: People With Depression Are NOT Attention Seeking
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but as we hear from members of The Depression Project's community every single day, for the overwhelming majority of people with depression, what we've described in this blog post is their reality – which is why it’s so painful when they’re told that they’re "just looking for attention" or "being overdramatic".
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.