Where does this myth come from? Why do people believe that those with mental illness can simply snap out of it? I believe it is because they simply don’t have any comparable experience, but assume they do. When depressed I’ve heard comments such as ‘pull your socks up’, ‘you just need to look for the silver lining’ or ‘I know how you feel I’ve been feeling a little down lately’. Whilst everyone feels down from time to time what the people who said these things fail to understand is that they have only ever experienced feeling down within the realms of normal mood, never even close to the extreme experience of those with mental illness. They can’t understand the despairing blackness that is depression because they have only ever felt sad and it’s very difficult to project and imagine beyond their own experience. As a result they assume that feeling depressed is just like feeling down but for an extended period and it isn’t. They assume that because when they feel ‘down’ they can get it together and carry on or still find ways to distract and enjoy themselves then someone with depression should be able to do the same and if they can’t its obviously because they don’t want to or due to some character flaw. In reality it’s like comparing a harmless mole to skin cancer, but whilst it’s unlikely anyone would presume to think they knew what it was like to have skin cancer because they have a mole, many do presume to think they know what it is like to have a mental illness because they experience normal shifts in mood.
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