I’ll be honest. When I’m stressed about an upcoming exam that I’ve hardly read any of the relevant material for, or when I’m looking outside and see storm clouds in the distance, or when I’m generally just bummed out one day, I’ll turn to a friend and say, “Man, I’m so depressed.” Although it seems like such a simple and easy phrase to use given my downtrodden attitude at the time, I really should stop because, in reality, I’m not depressed. And by saying my go-to-catchphrase on those downtrodden days, I may only be making it worse for the people who are actually suffering from real, clinically diagnosable depression and I may not even know it at the time.

By throwing around a term when it’s not really relevant, just for a word to say, the term becomes moot. Look at LOL as an example. Although “laughing out loud” when you actually just don’t have anything to say is totally different than diminishing a mental health issue. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), “almost ten percent of Canadians experience a mood disorder at some point in their lives.” That person you turn to could be one of the 3.5 million effected by a chemical imbalance that makes people feel that, according to CMHA, “there is no light at the end of the tunnel- there is just a long dark tunnel.”

Your choice of words could make someone feel that maybe their thoughts aren’t as bad as they actually could be, you may make them feel stigmatized, make them feel that it’s irrelevant for them to seek help. People shouldn’t have to feel this. Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact, in my eyes, it’s a sign of bravery. Realizing something is wrong may be hard, and realizing that it’s okay to get help may be harder. Realizing that something is wrong and that it’s okay to get help is incredible and brave. What happens if you are just sad, maybe you are just low? Regardless, talking to someone, even a professional, is beneficial. Let’s say you are suffering from clinical depression. You’ve just helped yourself on the road to finding that light, because it is there, for everyone, no matter how hard it may be to see at this moment.

There is a flip-side though, one that needs to be considered. What happens if on a day when it’s gloomy outside, a day when a friend may be behind on readings, or a day when a friend seems especially bummed out and turns to you saying, “I’m depressed.” You should never treat it like a joke, never think they’re lying, because you never know. Simply asking “how can I help” may not only show a glimmer of that light, but possibly save a life.

Laurier Brantford offers several services for students who need to talk to someone about the very real problem of depression, free of charge, and fully anonymous. If by chance the school professionals feel our school services aren’t adequate, they’ll recommend you to others in the community who can help. Keep that in mind: there is always someone there to help. There is always someone that cares. You’re not alone.

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