Depression has been mislabeled and misrepresented by pop culture for years. There are many high-profile movies and TV shows that have come out recently that try to tackle the issue, and ultimately drop the ball. One of these films was Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

Silver Linings Playbook took a deep dive into what it’s like to live with mental health issues, but it completely misrepresented depression. The movie revolved around Bradley Cooper’s character working on getting back together with his wife, who suffers from depression. The film goes on to make it seem that companionship is the simple answer to mental illness. While companionship is a huge help to those who are lonely, the movie makes it seem like a catch-all.

Pop culture has glamorized and glorified what it means to have a mental illness. Most movies, as well as TV shows, depict that there is an emotional attachment to depression, and that it has a simple cause that can be fixed or forgotten. Most depictions of depression in pop culture make depression look beautiful and that you should be staring out of windows or crying gracefully. They show depression as being sad or upset, and those confused emotions bring the character to a large blowup or breakdown. This is not the case for the majority of those who suffer from depression.

Depression is something that millions of people suffer from every year. The depiction of depression in pop culture is almost always associated with the thoughts of suicide. Some of those who suffer from severe depression do also suffer from suicidal thoughts, but you do not have to have suicidal thoughts to be depressed. Another way pop culture misses the mark is by portraying depressed characters as low-functioning and struggling in life. This, in reality, is not always the case. There are plenty of successful and high-functioning people suffering from depression.

Many of those who suffer from depression are responsible for their career, bills, other commitments, and other people. These commitments can play a role in how depression is brought on, but those who suffer from it try to function well enough to take care of their responsibilities.

The unfortunate truth is that there is no simple fix for depression. Companionship may not be the answer for all people who suffer from the illness. Many of those who suffer from depression also take prescription medication to help with their fight against it, and some are on those medications for the rest of their lives. Depression is also heavily combated by therapy and emotional counseling.

Depression in pop culture is portrayed as some beautiful thing that can be rectified quickly just by meeting some basic human need that one is lacking. This is simply not the case. Depression is scary, dirty, tragic, sad, and all around you. Depression should not be glamorized or romanticized. The real effects of depression should be talked about and discussed.

It’s great to see mental illness more accepted and discussed in movies and pop culture overall, but it is essential to make sure we know the facts behind the disease and not just what Hollywood shows.

If you or someone you know has signs of depression (like thousands of others), it can be managed. If you would like to see how our practice can help, please contact us.

Weddings are such perfect, happy occasions, right? Well, not
always. The blunt truth is that many of us don’t enjoy the prospect of going to
weddings. We attend out of obligation even though it is so anxiety provoking.
Why should we use our precious vacation time on a trip to a destination
wedding? Why should we buy an expensive dress we will never wear again? Why do
we have to sit next to our toxic aunt after what she said at Christmas? Who
wants to be responsible for our mildly xenophobic elders in a foreign resort?

There are a few ways to cope and get the best of this
destination wedding and potential family drama.

1) You could swallow your pride and focus on the bride and
groom 2) You could embrace the trip as a vacation – one that happens to have a
wedding in the middle 3) You could create the best memories and stories as you
live in the moment 4) You could accept that drama and disfunction are
inevitable and lean into them.

The bride and groom’s big day.

Take a moment to think about your feelings for the couple.
This desire to be happy for others is a powerful tool that could help you make
the most of the wedding. Use it to motivate you through the journey, family
gatherings or the wedding itself. Let that inspire you to be the bigger person
wherever possible.

Their wedding during your vacation.

Don’t forget that the rest of the trip can be all about you.
You don’t have to fly out there with everyone else in the family. Do things
your way as much as possible without treading on the toes of the bride and
groom. Take the time to see more of the destination than just the venue and hotel.
Buy something to wear that is affordable, you feel good in and you would wear
again.

Live in the moment.

Make the most of the day for what it is – for better or for
worse. Go with the flow of the day. Accentuate the positive moments to create
pleasant memories with the few attendees you actually like. Take plenty of
photos of the real moments and duck out of the staged, fake family ones.

Accepting the drama.

Finally, appreciate the fact that you can’t stop your
relatives from creating drama. Acceptance may help you cope when it finally
happens. Take a step back and laugh off the ridiculousness of the arguments.
Turn the drama over catching the bouquet into a comedic farce.

If you struggle to do all this and it all gets too much,
make sure to have an exit plan in place. Get through the ceremony, give the
happy couple your regards and slip out the back door. No one will blame you if
you fulfil the bare minimum requirements and decide to look after your own
mental health.

There is no better place to build a support system than the gym.

Weird, yes, I know, but aside from having people who are looking to keep fit under one roof, the gym is full of some decent people who can help a great deal when it comes to mental health.

As a mental therapist I know that fitness and mental health are closely related. Out of my own experience, I know that eating healthy and staying active is good for the mind, body, and soul.

I have always eaten healthy diet and taken daily walks for exercise. While this worked for a while, it got to a point where this routine did not cut it anymore for my mental health. I was under a lot of stress, my heart was racing constantly, and I was experiencing shortness of breath. I felt the need to practice what I preach and start taking charge of my health.

Then I joined a gym.

Amidst the awkwardness that comes with having to work out with strangers and meeting new people, I discovered that going to the gym can actually be a lot of fun. Aside from being a place to meet and make new friends, exercising also helps to kick those happy hormones into action. It really helps with anxiety, depressive thoughts, and general overall health.

I also knew that I needed to build my support system if I wanted to succeed. That is why I intentionally started building my community by introducing myself to the fitness instructors and my group exercise classmates. This led to us to connecting on social media to hold us all accountable if one of us starting missing classes. This happened few times because I was either intimidated, uncomfortable or just feeling lazy. Sometimes I was just a baby that could not deal with the pain that comes with physical exercise.

So naturally, knowing all these facts, I do tell my clients to take on some form of exercise and there is usually some resistance that comes with that.
The most common things that I hear are:

1) they all have perfect bodies and I don’t
2) they all know what they are doing and I don’t, and
3) it is so intimidating and I am afraid I will make fool of myself.

So, there it is, I guess the fear of embarrassment and failure is so strong that it prevents us from starting an exercise program in the first place.

However, I can guarantee that after a week or two in the gym, you will realize that everyone in that space is looking for the same thing. These people just want to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Making friends at the gym also helps in many ways. For one, you will get accountability partners who will challenge you into action whenever you find it hard keeping to your plan.

And because I have been there, I know that some days, you will be too tired to get out of bed, let alone going to work out in the gym. At such moments, these accountability partners will challenge you to push your body and stay focused so that you can achieve your goals at the end of the day.

I have never felt better in my entire life; I feel strong and healthy. I also found out that all of us have similar fears about being exposed and judged. After a few times going to the gym and doing my classes the feeling of awkwardness and uneasiness began melting away. I started having fun! I found my tribe because I build relationships after realizing that community doesn’t just happen you have to make it happen. Make that leap of faith.

Remember that change is uncomfortable and sometimes painful but If you are dedicated, you can kill two birds with one stone- achieve your physical health goals while ensuring that your mental health is in tip top shape. Food for thought right there