SSTDP #7: “Depressed? You’re obviously just an attention seeker.” I’ve noticed that society is quick to accuse people who have depression of attention seeking. As if depression is something made up for the sole purpose of seeking sympathy. Take a non-mental illness, like cancer for example. Imagine someone with cancer complaining and unhappily talking about his/her illness. Society is quick to provide unconditional sympathy to cancer victims. Few would dare to accuse cancer victims of just looking for attention. But it’s different for mental illnesses like depression. Again you see the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness.
People with mental illnesses like depression shouldn’t have to feel shame or fear about talking about their illness, but it’s hard to talk openly about mental illness because of the stigma. I’ve been told I shouldn’t talk about my problems because I seem like an attention seeker. The funny thing is that I also hear the opposite. Don’t keep it all inside. Talk about your problems. Reach out. Seek help.
There is something sick about telling a suicidal person that they’re just looking for attention. Well maybe the person wants help. It’s ironic that society wonders why they never saw it coming when someone commits suicide, yet society makes it so difficult for one to talk about depression without being accused of attention seeking, being weak, or something of the like.
Someone may talk about their depression as a cry for help (or simply self-expression), but it does not mean depression is a fake illness made up for the sole purpose of seeking attention or sympathy. We should be able to talk openly about mental illnesses like we can with “physical” illnesses.
Hanging out in an abandoned psychiatric hospital, the renowned Brazilian street artist Herbert Baglione took advantage of the location to continue his 1000 Shadows project, a series of works where he paints floating silhouettes on floors and walls. In this setting, one can imagine the poor souls that used to live in this place.