Thursday, January 16, 2014

The movie 'It's Kind of a Funny Story' teaches that depression can happen to anyone

I recently bought the movie "It's Kind of a Funny Story." I've wanted to see it for a long time, ever since I saw the first preview. After all, it's a movie about a teenage boy who checks himself into a mental hospital...and his journey toward overcoming depression. If you know me, you know the theme of hope and overcoming depression is my "catnip."

And the movie was as excellent as I thought it would be.

The main character's life isn't a tragedy. Craig wasn't abused as a child, his parents are still together and his family is the picture of middle class suburbia. Yet he still has this strong urge to kill himself.

That's something that I think many people don't understand. Depression doesn't have to stem from some horrific event. It's a disease. Are you more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia if you just went through a nasty divorce or were sexually abused? No. In the same way, depression is a disease that doesn't stem from any earthly events.

And I love that this movie addressed that. I think a lot of movies that take on the topic of depression show a character with this gruesome back story. But that's not always the way it works. And I think that's why some people wrongly say to people dealing with depression, "Just get over it," or "Nothing that bad has happened to you," or, the worst, "My life is harder than yours, and you don't see me getting depressed."

Since I have started raising suicide awareness, I have met several families and friends of teens who have lost their lives to suicide. And all of the teens had loving, tight-knit families. All of them had a lot of friends. They were involved in extracurricular activities. And all of their friends and family members had one similar thing to say -- that they never would have suspected that this person would kill him or herself.

Don't ever feel ashamed that you have depression. Don't keep it bottled up inside. And never think, "Oh, my problems aren't big enough. I shouldn't be feeling this way." Having a mental illness, in and of itself, is a "big enough problem." It's a disease. It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't mean you can't handle your problems. Just like any other disease, it's not your fault that you have it.

This movie does a great thing -- tries to erase the stigma of going and asking for help. If you found a lump on your body, you would go to a hospital to seek treatment. In the same way, like the main character Craig, there should be no shame in seeking help if you have symptoms of depression.

And, with the right treatment, you may learn how to take on each day again, to breath again without a constant aching in your chest and how to live.

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