"Mom says happy is a decision. But my happy is as hollow as a pin-pricked egg."
A clip of poet Sabrina Benaim performing her slam poetry piece "Explaining My Depression To My Mother" has been viewed over 25 million times, and shows how crippling the mental illness can be. In the piece, Benaim touches on how difficult it is to explain that depression isn't tied to anything in particular.
"My depression is a shape shifter," she says. "One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear, the next it is the bear. On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone."
Benaim shares some of her symptoms: Anxiety, insomnia, avoiding friends and social situations, and flashbacks to sad memories. She explains how she wants to be able to make plans and follow through with them, but her depression drags her down. And while she understands that her mother means well, she doesn't quite know how to get through to her about what she's experiencing.
Hundreds of people commented saying that the poem perfectly captured their own experiences. According to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people struggle with depression—and depression is now the leading cause of illness worldwide. The National Alliance on Mental Illness calculates that one in eight American women will experience clinical depression in her lifetime. Even though depression is incredibly common, a stigma still surrounds it, making it difficult for people to reach out and get the help they need.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) surveyed 1,200 American adults about their attitudes toward people with mood disorders, finding that the majority of respondents didn't discriminate, but, unfortunately, 18 percent believed people with mood disorders "are not just like everyone else," 19 percent believed they should not have children, 26 percent thought they were easy to identify in the workplace, and 29 percent believed they "do not live normal lives when treated."
Benaim is the author of the forthcoming book called Depression & Other Magic Tricks, which will further humanize the struggle that some people with depression experience, and will hopefully spread awareness about depression to people who misunderstand it. Check out the full video: