Wentworth Miller creates video showing what it’s like inside the mind of someone living with depression
It’s hard for people to understand what it’s like to be inside the mind of someone dealing with depression. Truth be told, it can be hard for the person actually dealing with it to understand what is going on in their own mind. But a new video is shedding light on what it’s like to live with depression in the hopes of erasing the stigma.
The video, titled “A Day In the Life With Depression,” was created by actor Wentworth Miller. Earlier this year, Miller became an outspoken advocate for mental health when he responded to a fat-shaming internet meme of him. In his Facebook post that was shared nearly 300,000 times, Miller wrote: “I’ve struggled with depression since childhood… Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.”
Miller is just one of the many faces of depression and mental illness. Truth be told, mental illness affects all of us in some way. All of us. Each year an estimated 15 million people are effected by depression in the United States alone, and Postpartum Progression reports that 11 to 20% of mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Just like any disease, mental illness affects people differently and varies in level of severity. In its most severe cases, depression and mental illness can result in death, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association, more than half of all American adults have been affected by suicide in some way. I have, and chances are you have as well.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the International Association for Suicide Prevention is urging people to show support and spread awareness by lighting candles, supporting the cause on social media, taking part in suicide prevention events, and reaching out to those in crisis. Given that more people die from suicide than car accidents, the situation is dire and the message needs to be shared.
Even though most suicides are preventable, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, many people who are at risk don’t receive treatment because of the stigma associated with mental illness, lack of access to care, or lack of knowledge about the symptoms of depression or anxiety. And despite the prevalence of depression and anxiety, mental illness remains the giant elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about it – even while it is stomping its big elephant feet, crushing everything in sight.
Mental illness can be difficult to describe and understand – not just for others, but for the person dealing with the illness, as well – which is part of the reason Miller’s viral video is so important. After my first son was born, I became consumed by feelings of emptiness. I couldn’t describe what I was feeling other than that the world had lost its color and everything seemed pointless. On paper, however, my life was great. I had a loving husband, a beautiful baby, solid friendships, and a supportive family. But even though I should have felt happy, I wasn’t. I couldn’t make sense of what I was feeling – or rather what I wasn’t feeling since everything felt so empty – so I kept it to myself and rationalized it away. It wasn’t until my second son was born, when I didn’t feel the dark and angry emptiness that I realized how fortunate I was to have survived the beast of depression.
There are harmful double-standards for our mental health and physical health, and these have to change. If someone has arthritis, we don’t fault them for taking pain meds and getting physical therapy. If someone has diabetes, we don’t look away when they talk about their insulin levels. So why do we feel so uncomfortable talking about the bottle of Zoloft or Lexapro in our cabinet and the therapy sessions we have once a week?
We should never be ashamed of doing what we need to do to be healthy and happy, so that we can live our best lives and be our best selves. After all, we need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of each other.
If you or someone you love is suffering with depression, anxiety or other mental illness, you can find a therapist or support group by visiting the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. If you are in immediate need of care, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.