I have a strong feeling that the proverbial human ignorance has pervaded this issue too. The issue being the general perception of depression, and not depression per se.
Thanks to popular culture our understanding of depression is blatantly unrealistic. It is NOT alluring. It does NOT have a charm to it. And honestly, no one loves someone for their essential ‘damaged goods’ quality. But if someone chooses to love someone DESPITE their brokenness, then that is different altogether.
Some writers continue to exploit this serious mental condition. John Green, for instance – makes it a point that his female characters have a delectable troika of Depression, Beauty and a Fancy Vocabulary. (He goes on to glorify escapism, pointless rebellion and medical diseases like cancer and possible schizophrenia. But if we begin to criticise his ‘paper’ characters, we’d get nowhere.)
What does this reinforce at the end? That if you’re hurting, then it instantly makes you attractive and enigmatic. The incessant romanticising of everything unpleasant is very much in vogue these days. These notions are far-fetched and extremely disrespectful to the millions of people battling with this condition out there. It undermines them who have to grapple with self-decimation and crushing isolation.
More than a phenomenon, it’s a feeling. A feeling that is subjective and can have any meaning for the person experiencing it. But I do know what Depression is not- it’s not a fashion trend in making. It is not a rag doll that writers can mutilate every now and then. It is not equivalent to a pedestal that we construct. A pedestal premised on sympathy and compassion.
It is grimy, devastating and ugly in its nakedness. It is not a statement, nor is it a cocktail-party conversation. So before we praise ‘beautiful’ and ’emphatic’ depictions of Depression, we need to step back and evaluate what it really is.