I’ve noticed there’s an alarming number of students at Tooele High School, especially female students, who suffer from depression — but of a different sort.
I’m just a teenage girl and a student at THS. I’m not a doctor, psychologist or therapist. Yet, I do have eyes and ears, and what I see and hear at school and on social media is what I call a trend of self-diagnosed depression. This concerns me, because I see students actually looking for reasons — even excuses — to be depressed.
I know depression exists, there is a lot of it in this community, and it’s a problem. But I’m not talking about people who are truly depressed and/or have been diagnosed by a healthcare professional. I’m talking about those who self-diagnose themselves and claim they are depressed, talk about it openly, but likely don’t have it.
For example: Imagine a teenage girl in high school. She walks through the halls while listening to music and thinking about how horrible the world is. She goes into deep thought about the things in her life that have gone wrong: A boy she likes has turned her down, her homework load has increased by two assignments, and she has lost her pencil to take notes in class that day.
After school she goes home, goes straight to her room, locks the door and sulks. After dinner and a few “American Horror Story” episodes, she goes to sleep. The next day she goes to school and sees her friends. Her friends ask her how she is and she replies, “Horrible. My depression has really gotten serious.” I’ve witnessed this regularly at Tooele High.
The medical dictionary defines depression as a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping. There may also be feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts or an attempt to die by suicide. Depression is a serious medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes.
But right now at Tooele High, being depressed is seen as beautiful by a startling number of students. For many of them, depressed now means they’re perfect, while students who are positive or happy are fake or stuck up. On Facebook, I’ve seen posts that say, “My depression is no one’s business. How I handle it is no one’s business. I can do to my body whatever I want.” But if it’s no one’s business, I wonder, why is it being posted on Facebook?
I’ve also seen comments on social media like “Leave her alone, cutting is actually helpful,” and “This is a free country, she can do whatever makes her feel better.”
Which usually means some form of self harm. From my experience, depressed people tend to self harm so they can feel something. But I’ve noticed that when people who aren’t truly depressed do self-harm, they do it to represent or symbolize their sadness.
I’ve seen students post pictures of themselves crying. I’ve seen them at school talk about how messed up they think they are, and tell each other about the scars on their wrists. Each mark represents a certain event that caused them to believe they are depressed. I’ve seen students go straight to the blade to cut themselves instead of confronting life’s issues.
In my opinion, self-diagnosed depression is not beautiful, and hurting yourself is tragic. Instead of trying to make your life better, you’re instead seeking approval and acceptance in a damaging way.
What will happen to younger generations when they see their older siblings and friends, people they look up to, hurt themselves because of this trend? They’ll think that when they’re sad, they’re supposed to hurt themselves, too. They may not see it any other way. That’s like having a plate of food in front of you that you don’t like, and instead of getting something else to eat that you’ll enjoy, you just choose not to eat. Does that sound healthy?
When did sadness become more important than happiness? What happened to solving our problems, defeating our inner enemies and taking negativity out of our lives? Why is negativity seen as a positive thing?
As a teenager, I understand that students want to fit in, they follow trends, and look for acceptance from their peers. Students want to relate to each other. With self-diagnosed depression, they want to look at each other’s scars and say, “I understand how you feel.” But when someone who has control over their lives and isn’t depressed, chooses to be swallowed up by their issues, that’s a mistake. It’s probably also an insult to people who actually have depression.
There are many things that a student, who really isn’t depressed, can do to make themselves feel better. For one, they don’t have to go to extremes, like falsely hating themselves or their bodies to make others think they’re beautiful. If you’re not really depressed, but there’s one or more things bothering you, the power to do something about it is within your grasp.
That power begins by not selling out on you.
Patience is a junior at Tooele High School.