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Fight Your Own Stigma

My younger brother has always been a happy, fun, and easy-going kid, which is why it was such a shock when I learned that he had been struggling with depression and had even attempted suicide. Since the day that my younger brother was born, we have been pretty much inseparable. Growing up we did everything together; we shared a room with a bunk bed until I was 16 or 17 years old (and again when we were in college), we had a lot of the same interests, and despite being 4 years older than him, he was always with me and my friends. We were a packaged deal, if you were hanging out with me then you were hanging out with him too. Honestly, my friends were probably more his than they were mine.

I had graduated high school and moved out of the house when I learned that he was dealing with depression. At the time, I did not know a lot about it. Like most, I had heard of people with it and knew that it could be serious, but thought that with a good cold shower he could snap out of it and see life the way that he used to. When we started rooming together in college, I went into it having this mindset that if anyone could snap him out of this depression thing then it would be me. I mean, after all, I was his big brother and knew him better than anyone. I would have him hanging with friends, going to the gym, doing new things and before he could even say the word depression he would be back to being his old self. There was a lot of frustration, tears, and really intense experiences before I learned the hard truth. Major depression and anxiety don't just go away. Unlike most people, those who suffer with depression can't just turn the switch on and off and decide not to be sad anymore. Getting out and doing something that would distract others does not distract them from what they feel inside 24/7.

My hope for you is that you will learn faster than I. Don't wait for the scars, burns, hospital visits, and tears. Depression is real. Just as it is with other diseases, there is evidence in the body. There are chemical imbalances in the brain that cause depression and affect the way that someone feels, acts, and thinks. Those who struggle should not be told to get over it or that everyone has bad days. They need love, compassion, support, and belief from their friends and family. Without it, they may struggle to survive.

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