TED Talk: "Depression is okay"

Today is #TimetoTalk. Time to Change, the campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination has set this date, February 5, to have a 5 minutes talk about mental health with someone around us. We can have that conversation at work, at university, at home or with our friends. It may sound as a very small ask but the aim is to encourage the nation to share a few words on the topic to gradually turn it into something we wouldn't be embarrassed to talk about. 

This is why we have decided sharing this great video that encourages that kind of talk and explains why. Kevin Breel is a comedian and a mental health activist who lives with depression. At some point he was suicidal but he decided to go on and to tell his story to help others. Here he talks about his personal experience dealing with depression and how people only see one side of the coin.

 Kevin Breel talks about depression and stigma for TED

Kevin Breel talks about depression and stigma for TED

"For a long time in my life, I felt like I'd been living two different lives. There's the life that everyone sees, and then there's the life that only I see. And in the life that everyone sees, who I am is a friend, a son, a brother, a stand-up comedian and a teenager. [...] In the life that only I see, who I am, who I really am, is someone who struggles intensely with depression. I have for the last six years of my life, and I continue to every day."

According to him, people tend to have misconceptions on what a real depression is like and usually confuse it with temporary sadness due to concrete life events. Also he reckons that people are too busy to care and it's easier to turn around and to avoid acknowledging a very distressing reality.

"[...] There's this pretty popular misconception that depression is just being sad when something in your life goes wrong, when you break up with your girlfriend, when you lose a loved one, when you don't get the job you wanted. But that's sadness.[...] Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right. [...]"

"[...] It seems to be hard for everyone to talk about, so much so that no one's talking about it. And no one's talking about depression, but we need to be, because right now it's a massive problem. [...] We don't see it on Facebook. We don't see it on Twitter. We don't see it on the news, because it's not happy, it's not fun, it's not light. And so because we don't see it, we don't see the severity of it."

"[...] But the severity of it and the seriousness of it is this: every 30 seconds, every 30 seconds, somewhere, someone in the world takes their own life because of depression."

"[...] I was afraid that people would see me for who I really was, that I wasn't the perfect, popular kid in high school everyone thought I was, that beneath my smile, there was struggle, and beneath my light, there was dark, and beneath my big personality just hid even bigger pain."

He believes that stigma plays a massive role in the recognition of the problem. 

"[...] The scariest part is that after a while, you become numb to it. It becomes normal for you, and what you really fear the most isn't the suffering inside of you. It's the stigma inside of others, it's the shame, it's the embarrassment, it's the disapproving look on a friend's face."

"[...] The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one."

However depression has solutions, it can be controlled, it can be managed. But most of all, it needs education and understanding from people around us. It needs "normalisation".

"[...] And I don't know what the solution is. I wish I did, but I don't -- but I think it has to start here. It has to start with me, it has to start with you, it has to start with the people who are suffering, the ones who are hidden in the shadows."

"[...] It's okay. Depression is okay. If you're going through it, know that you're okay. And know that you're sick, you're not weak, and it's an issue, not an identity."

"[...] Depression has dragged me down to, in a lot of ways I'm grateful for it. Because yeah, it's put me in the valleys, but only to show me there's peaks, and yeah it's dragged me through the dark but only to remind me there is light."

"[...] We're people, and we have problems. We're not perfect, and that's okay."

"[...] So we need to stop the ignorance, stop the intolerance, stop the stigma, and stop the silence, and we need to take away the taboos, take a look at the truth, and start talking, because the only way we're going to beat a problem that people are battling alone is by standing strong together, by standing strong together."