Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stupid FB Post

I was planning on writing a post about how well I continue to feel and function. In fact, Jet and I ran 20 miles yesterday, and it was a good, doable run! Amazing. That would not have been possible just two short weeks ago. I was really pleased. With the help of TMS, I'm getting my life back. That's what I was going to write about. But now I have something more pressing stuck on my mind.

I was just peeking briefly at Facebook, It's not something I spend a lot of time doing, and perhaps what follows is exactly the reason why. A friend, who happens to be a nurse, posted this little ditty from My doctor asked if any of my family members suffered from mental illnesses. I said no, they all seem to enjoy it. In response, my friend received 3 comments approving of her funny post and multiple Likes, smiley faces, and even one heart emoji. I, on the other hand, began to fume.

Is anyone else offended by this post? Why is this funny? If we substitute cancer, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis for mental illness, is this little ditty still funny? I think not so much. And that's the point! A biological illness which tears lives apart, disables people, and on many occasions leads to death isn't funny! Yet multiple viewers had no trouble, and presumably no second thought about pushing the Like button. I'm so angry and sad.

I tried to let it go. I'm not a big Facebook user, and I didn't want to create a scene or initiate some heated discussion which would likely end up pissing me off more than I cared to deal with, so I tried to let it go. I couldn't. I just thought she should know better, and if she didn't know better I wanted to educate her. I finally decided to at least send my friend a private message detailing my feelings and the reasons behind them.

This is what I wrote: "I don't want to create a big scene on Facebook, but allow me to say something about your 'enjoying mental illness' post. I know you meant it lightheartedly, but as a person with severe, treatment resistant depression, an illness no different than any other in that it is an illness, I find that post short sighted and offensive. My recent bout of depression tore my life apart and nearly outlasted my ability to stay alive. I was in the hospital for 18 days, suffered thru 9 ECT treatments, was unable to work, make any money, or pay my bills, and am now in the midst of 4-6 weeks of daily Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) treatments. Please think about it. Substitute any other illness; cancer, heart disease, or MS, in place of mental illness in that little ditty. Is it still funny? Not so much. Just my thoughts as I attempt to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness. Thanks for listening."

My friend was sorry she offended me and said it was not her intent. I know that. I know it wasn't her intent, or presumably the intent of, to offend anyone. She found it funny. She re-posted a post that's been viewed over 4.2 million times already. Clearly she wasn't the only one who thought it was cute or funny. That's the real problem. How do we combat this pervasive sense that mental illness is something to be made light of rather than an illness to be taken seriously? I don't know. What do you guys think?


Nathalie said...

I am so glad you are feeling better Etta.
I completely agree with you about the Facebook "ditty". I too found it offensive and felt a sense of outrage, when I read it. It does nothing to eliminate the stigma around mental illness. How could anyone be so insensitive as to find it amusing? I respect your courage in challenging/ educating your friend who put this item on FB. I suffer from severe (recurrent) depression with episodes that can be up to six months duration each year. I wonder if those people who 'liked' or responded to the FB post with smiley faces would have done so, if they had experienced the anguish that you and I and many others go through when experiencing mental illness?

Wendy Love said...

I totally agree with you, because I totally understand depression and mental illness. But if I wasn't experiencing it personally, I might have laughed at that joke too.
If you haven't experienced something, such as losing a spouse, being fired from your job, your house burning down, having a leg amputated etc. you can't possibly know the effects those experiences have on a person. And if someone made a joke about it, you might even laugh.
I am on your side and I don't think that joke is funny. And I also stay away from facebook because there is so much in there that is possibly going to get our old mentally ill brains annoyed!

Jason Lee Perkins said...

I read this yesterday and have just been mulling it over. Because at first it truly gives me a chuckle too. But I have a sick/inappropriate sense of humor and like poking fun at myself.

But, realistically, if it had said something like 'My doctor asked if any of my family suffered from cancer.' and I replied 'No, they all enjoy it.' Even the doctor would wonder what the hell is wrong with this person. And everyone would bash that comment hard. Which is why we will never see it. Yes, I know the joke is meant to be ironic, but there needs to be another line in there from the doctor, where he adds 'you're a jackass.' Or something worse.

Ignorance is a natural things for humans. We live in a world full of so many things to know that it is just easier to pretend then actually care (sometimes). I would not understand so many medical things if my wife wasn't a nurse, things that I might be an insensitive jerk about.

I'm not saying your reaction is wrong. It wasn't, and I'm glad you messaged her. I guess this is just where I am with this. Thank you for posting it.

test4echo said...


I do not comment much on web forums, but this one I had to. As someone who also suffers from from treatment resistant depression and has been through 7 rounds of ECT, then lost his job, I see nothing funny in mental illness at all. I am someone who is fighting for equality of mental illness relative to other serious illnesses and thank you for your fantastic blog and great insight into these types of issues. Thank you for all you do,


Anonymous said...

I applaud you for how you handled this situation. People seem to think it's okay to make light of things like depression, eating disorders and other mental illnesses and it's terribly frustrating. And as you said, insert cancer, MS, etc., and that would be a game changer. Thank you for advocating and speaking up. We have to keep educating and reminding people that mental illness is serious and not just "in our heads".