You as a person with depression. Ever feel stereotyped?

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity May 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm Views 1,116 Replies 7

Dr GaryTherapist


My clients often talk to me about how, once other people know they are living with a mental illness like depression, they begin to feel stereotyped. This can come out in small ways, expressed as expectations: "I know this will be hard for you to handle." It might come out in assumptions: "It looks like you having an episode today." It might come out in not feeling like the other person is being fully honest with you, for fear of "setting you off."

What about you? Have you experienced being stereotyped after disclosing that you are living with depression?

And if so, how do you cope?

Looking forward to sharing experiences and support with you.

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Replies (7 replies)

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  • Smrtblondy
    Smrtblondy August 26 at 8:15 am   
    Edited August 26 at 8:18 am by Smrtblondy

    When I was 13, and the doctor told my mom, she told me that I must be faking it to get attention, and told everyone I had depression, and told them to be careful how they talked and acted around me. Her actions felt spiteful and mean. She often said to others when she didn't think I could hear, that she thought I was competing with her because she had bipolar and depression, herself. The way she talked after that always felt fake. I can't think of the words to describe it right now, but it was like she was a high school girl talking to someone she hated. Her tone of voice was spiteful and dramatic. She would sometimes say things like, "I can't say anything because I don't want you to cry or kill yourself." In a somewhat sarcastic tone. I always hated it because she would have my siblings talk to me the same way, which was extremely difficult, because I'm the eldest, and I was often left babysitting them. And of course everyone at school found out, teachers included. Most had no idea what it meant and treated me like a wounded animal that could strike at any moment.

  • jayjay198824
    jayjay198824 June 9 at 10:19 pm   

    My mom told basically everyone. I was treated differently afterwards never was treated the same I have lost a little trust in her and a lot of people because of it. She said I had mental problems so people generally ignored me or avoided me or talked behind my back. It made me feel like I was incapable of being normal. :-(

  • Dr GaryCA June 17 at 11:30 am   

    Hey jayjay, thanks a lot for sharing this, my friend. I am sad to hear that your privacy was disrespected in this way. This should have been up to you to share, or not to share. And so sorry that you were treated this way. It shows that we still have a long way to go toward treating mental illness like any other chronic condition, so that people who are living with mental illness do not feel stigmatized. Because of stigma, people living with mental illness may not get the emotional support they need, they may be treated unkindly, and they may feel they have to hide their mental illness and not get the treatment they need. We still have more work to do as a country in changing our attitude toward mental illness and its treatment. Take good care of yourself, and stay in touch with us. Everybody here gets what you are going through.

  • Meran
    Meran May 24 at 12:52 am   

    This is the exact reason I have never shared with anyone that I suspect I am living with depression.

    I've seen how people react around me, it doesn't seem as if people know how to handle it, even with the best of intentions and love. I don't blame them, empathy isn't easy and if I myself don't understand this, I don't expect anyone else to. And what could they possibly say anyway? It is my thing to deal with, my work to do. But yes, the stereotype persists and is one of the reasons I don't speak about it. It's worse in the Asian community - mental illness is still a bit taboo.

  • Dr GaryCA May 26 at 4:20 pm   

    Hi Meran, thanks so much for sharing this with us. I agree that depression is misunderstood. And because of that, individuals who are living with depression feel so alone, as you described. I agree, there's not much someone can say. But I do hope you have people in your life who can just listen, and be there for you. That's really the best someone else can do, but it's also a lot. Glad you are here.

  • robertoj
    robertoj May 24 at 12:08 am   

    I have never experienced that to my knowledge. I think I hid it well. At times people seemed to avoid me so they knew something wasn't right. A few teachers commented on some of my dark stories I wrote. I vaguely recall one mention something about being depressed but most passed it off as a character flaw. I was fairly anti social at times but could be quite friendly when I was up. I get the feeling they thought it was an act or wanted attention. I thought that I was acting until the I attempted suicide. I somehow survived and being alone I told no one. I don't know if it was a coincidence or she could see I was a mess but the girl I liked came up and told me that she loved me. I never tried it again but thought about it obsessively.

  • Dr GaryCA May 26 at 4:08 pm   

    Hey Roberto, nice to see you. Thanks for sharing your story here. I think depressed kids often exhibit symptoms that may or may not be picked up by adults. Those of us in the mental health professions wish that teachers and other school personnel were better about keeping an eye out for the symptoms of depression in kids. Not so that they can treat them differently, but so that they can facilitate getting help for them. Sounds like some of your teachers noticed your dark writing, but didn't know what to make of it or didn't try. Sorry you felt so alone during that time.

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