A veil of silence

Kaanchee Gandhi, Editor-in-Chief

The silence is deafening. In their battle against depression, people are still finding themselves facing the illness alone. Regardless of age, sex or ethnicity, the stigma against depression still lingers across the nation. It baffles me that in a country which has become so forward with other societal issues like racism and sexism, we are treating one of the world’s most common health problems as a blemish on our nation.

When my brother attempted suicide last year, my parents thought they had failed in some way raising him. My brother, along with his doctors, reassured them that his sickness was not a result of their parenting; it was an illness that needed to be treated systematically like any other illness. Still, the entrenched taboo on depression kept them from comfortably discussing the diagnosis with friends and even family members. They weren’t ashamed; they only found it a difficult topic to address.

How did we get to this point as a society? Movies and televisions shows depict mental illnesses as bizarre and alienating conditions. Negative stereotypes that stem from the media surround people with depression. Dehumanizing someone with a mental disorder through jokes has become a simple process.

People with depression and other mental disorders like anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia are accused of making up the condition for attention; others claim these individuals lack the “willpower” to overcome their disorders. When my brother told his peers of his attempt, many of them were physically angry at him. Although it was not his own conscious choice to have depression, people still treated him as if he chose the illness.

There is a veil of silence that distorts the truth about mental illnesses which we as a society must overcome to lower the rising suicide rates in the United States. Without a community that comfortably accepts mental disorders, individuals will not publicize their affliction. The hardest step for people with depression is often admitting to someone that they have a problem. Because the signs are so unnoticeable, it is crucial that depressed individuals come out with their condition so action can be taken to solve the problem. When depression is stigmatized in the way it is today, people do not wish to reveal their ailment to others. The taboo brings with it an internal sense of shame which prevents people from confronting their own affection. Most people with depression do not actually seek help and their condition goes untreated, often ending in suicide.

My brother, thankfully, has grown comfortable discussing his condition to others. With his openness toward his depression, I am slowly seeing him improve. If all goes well, he will be returning to school second semester with the support of his friends and family. Hopefully this year our country will be able to lift this veil of silence together.