NOTE: There is an important update at the end of this article.
This is something that I feel needs to be addressed any time we see it. There is a misconception that depressed people are just sad, and need to just suck it up and learn from their experiences to become a stronger person. To an extent, I agree with that sentiment. I have definitely experienced some rough patches in life that knocked me down, but taught me a lot as I pulled myself out of it and made me more resilient for the future. I have been sad, beaten down, and felt really really shitty to the point where I just wanted to curl up in a hole and never come out again, but I did. I was able to get through those tough life lessons and fight through the sadness I was experiencing.
Depression is different. Having clinical depression is not the same as being sad, or even feeling deep despair from a difficult life event.
I recently saw a Tweet from someone who Justin and I follow on YouTube and Twitch. I’ve cringed at some of the things that come out of his mouth from time to time, but I feel like at his core, he’s a genuinely good person. Even good people are at risk of being ignorant on occasion. Nobody is immune from this. Period. This is why it is so important to confront ignorance with compassion, and help to teach rather than shame people. I want to make it very clear that I am not posting this to shame him. I am using this as a learning experience for others. If you are going to spread misinformation on a public forum, I think it only fair to use that as a way to start an important conversation.
When I came across this twitter thread, I was disappointed by how much he misunderstood what depression really is, but I saw an opportunity to address this misconception and took it.
Clinical depression has been shown to cause visible changes in a person’s brain. Check out this video:
While I feel like Hellbent’s message was intended to be uplifting and inspirational to people who he believes are just having a rough time in life, claiming that depression can’t be helped with medication and downplaying the severity of this condition are extremely problematic. If someone struggling with clinical depression read his tweets and decided to stop taking their medications per his recommendation, it could lead to devastating consequences.
Hellbent has a massive following. I sincerely hope that some of his fans read our conversation and learn a little from it.
UPDATE: He replied and clarified what he meant, and I really appreciate it.