"Depression is like wanting to paint a bright canvas of yellow and orange, but you can only afford black and grey."
This is an example of the language some poets will use to try to describe depression to everyone. Someone with a flower icon with some kind of vintage filter on Twitter will create the quote, and then share it to all of their followers. The same account will post hundreds of tweets that say the same message. "Depression is beautiful and relatable." The tweets will get 10k retweets, and then hundreds of copies will be found on Tumblr, within blog posts and in bios. After Tumblr has their share of mediocracy, the quote will be the face of teens on Facebook and in the descriptions of photos on Instagram.
The problem with quotes like these, that paint depression like it is something copied and beautiful, is that it is toxic. Depression is not a carbon copy, nor is it beautiful in any shape, form, or way.
Since the age of eleven, I have been battling depression in multiple different ways. I used to take medication, and I also used to do things that I now consider regretful. These things are what helped me through my depression, which I still have to fight with at the age of nineteen.
Saying depression is like wilting flowers of the mind's garden or a dark, gloomy day in paradise makes depression look like something just about anybody can have. While depression does find its way into the lives of multiple people of multiple ages, races, and genders, it is not something that every single person will face. Depression is also not something that everyone will face the same exact way.
Depression for one person can last just a few days, while another person will never suffer themselves, but watch on as a parent or sibling does. In the case of my depression, this mental illness can settle in your body just like an organ, and just might never disappear.
None of this is beautiful, either.
Depression for me has been crying late at night, hoping no one can hear me. It has been scars and bruises and clumps of hair lost in the shower. It manifests in anger and frustration for not only the world, but for myself. Depression is a deep, dark sadness that has left me in bed for hours, not wanting to even go to the bathroom because moving is too much. It is looking forward to the small things, because maybe then something will finally change, although another part of you argues that you'll never be happy. Depression is going days on end not changing your clothes or brushing your hair or teeth or showering, even though it makes you feel worse. It is thinking that no one will ever understand you or will love you or will even look at you because you're disgusting.
Depression is not beautiful, and it never will be. No matter how many poems people write. No matter how many romantic stories are published. No matter how many times people press the retweet or repost button. Depression will never be beautiful.
This is not saying that people who love poetry and use depression as some sort of muse or theme can't do so. Solving the problems your depression creates is a matter all up to you. The problem is when people who haven't had a day's worth of depression, or think their depression is the same depression everyone else has had, try to make it romanticized.
Romanticizing mental illness of any kind can create a stigma, or add to a stereotype that already exists. It can cause people to think mental illness is a fad, or something that can just be loved away. It is never as simple as that.
Talking about depression seriously, or in ways that can make people truly understand, is how we can release the stigma on depression and make it known that it exists and will always exist. The important thing to do is to help others and to try to manage the depression.
Write your poetry that speaks the truth about depression and the way it can seriously harm a person. But don't make it the plot of your "fixer-upper" romance story or the bio of your Tumblr account. Dressing up depression in ribbons and bows doesn't make it pretty.