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What To Keep In Mind When You're A Millennial With Depression

Chronic mental health struggles aren't just a diagnosis: they're a part of your life and it's okay to acknowledge that.

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Lazy. Entitled. Delicate. Sick?

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In an era that's seen the rise of mediaspeak like "trigger warning," "preferred personal pronouns," "safe space," or the ever-popular "special snowflake," half of the population has turned an unfavorable eye to the generation they see as the culprit behind a perceived decline in established American values: the promoters of weak work ethic. Greedy, self-absorbed radicals who, in existing to help themselves and others like them, seek to punish many who aren't. Crybaby intellectuals who are thin-skinned and unable to swallow critique or accept gritty truths, placing idyllic theory above the often disappointing reality of "real world" experience.

The downfall of Western civilization as we know it is perpetually blamed on Generation Y. Or, as they're (as we're) better known: The Millennials.

However, when does the awareness of and empathy for those facing marginalization that you've never experienced surpass the bounds of compassion and become "irrational political policing?" When does concern and shouldering your assumed societal responsibilities venture into the silent territory of chronic anxiety?

...When is that anxiety no longer a product of what some consider an "if I can't have my way, I'm taking my ball and going home," foot stomp and instead the side effect of something gone awry at a chemical level?

It's no secret that the legitimacy of mental health is a theme that we as a country are just now beginning to embrace. The longstanding argument comes with two sides: the aforementioned overreaction of the millennials to just about everything, and the dismissal that mental illness has always been a constant in American life, but the recent sensitivity to it has led to more valid studies and facts on the part of the medical and psych communities than decades past.

However, a handful of researchers in recent memory have gone on record to say that while, yes, mental health difficulties weren't just suddenly invented at the turn of the millennium, the number of diagnosed major depression cases is steadily on the rise , affecting 1-in-5 (roughly 20%) millennials: a signiifcant uptick from the 16% of Boomers and Gen X'ers.

Depression is noted as not necessarily the persistent feeling of sadness, but often numbness, and from it the potential loss of motivation and interest which then supplies guilt, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness that perpetuates a feedback loop of negative emotion. Given that, it's no mystery why 70% of millennials with depression or anxiety diagnoses surveyed claimed their symptoms overwhelmingly impacted their cognitive function in the workplace.

If you're a millennial in the workplace (or frankly any place) suffering from depression, anxiety, or the whole host of implications that come with them, there are ways to cope without feeling broken or worthless.

I'm not a licensed medical professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like playing musical couches in every living therapist's office in the country grants me enough sway to impart a helpful perspective.

Social Media Is Still Just Media

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As a nation, we're currently entrenched in a battle over "fake news," media accountability, and the constant conversation of whether or not the visual, audio, and printed information we consume is bent towards some sort of agenda. Even the most personal corners of your MyFace and Sapcebook feeds should fall prey to the same scrutiny. I mean, "media" is already in the title.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and co. are all public sounding boards for self-promotion and whether it was the original intent or not, have become our digitized "social" resumes. Just like you wouldn't include nearly flunking Algebra II and horrifically average grade point average in high school on the professional resume you send to the most prestigious law firms in the country, you aren't going to offer up unflattering images, opinions, or aspects of your life when trying to boost your social capital.

They create endless opportunities for truth by omission.

Just like you aren't defined by your diagnosis, Jenny with the good hair isn't the designated hot body, perfect boyfriend, and Pinterest-ready bullet journal that she shares with Instagram everyday. Jenny might actually pull the legs off of ants to see if it makes her really feel like the monster she is, and you bet she isn't tweeting about it.

Own Your Depression

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It's the cornerstone of every "You're Depressed: Now What" pamphlet, group therapy session, and beyond: you're more than just a diagnosis. You're a person.

And while that's undoubtedly true, you're also a person with a diagnosis. It doesn't have to be an icebreaker or the topic of conversation to lead with, but not acknowledging the fact or ruminating on it in a way that's shame-ridden or fearful won't make it go away. Your diagnosis isn't all that you are, but it is a part of you and potentially makes an occasional appearance in your daily life. Some days are going to require a little more work and self care than others. But on the flipside, other days are going to be just fine...great, even. Be honest with yourself and recognize it. Then own it.

Some people have compulsive personality quirks. You have depression. It's not fun and you don't have to love it, but in dreading the bad days, you're already letting them win. If they consume you, they define you. Don't let that happen: know who you are, know your needs, and don't be afraid to do what it takes to meet those needs.

Don't Settle For Happy


I once had a therapist tell me that there's an undeniable energy, even brilliance, that comes with a bipolar brain and what I believe she meant was that along with your greatest struggle come your greatest strengths. And not just by way of inspiration or the whole "trial and tribulation builds resilience and character" adage, either. Bipolar disorder is becoming more readily associated with anxious and perfection-oriented personality types and while perfectionsm can be its own counterproductive, compulsive downfall, it's often the difference between getting by and excelling.

Saying "don't settle for happy" sounds harsh; like we should all be demanding euphoria from each hour of every day. That goal, especially when living with a major depressive disorder can seem far from achievable

If you don't feel alright, reach out for help:

Crisis Text Line

Text "CONNECT" to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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