“Depression Does not Mean Unhappiness” is a biographical essay that illustrates author Kim Seoul-ki’s experience of overcoming depression. The book gained popularity and has been in the top 100 books for self-improvement chart for nine weeks as it has aroused empathy from those who have had similar experiences.
However, the book was not published for the sole reason of evoking empathy. Kim explained how the most difficult part of being in a state of depression was when her family was not able to understand her feelings.
“My family and I wanted to understand each other, but since we weren’t on the same page, it was hard to do so,” Kim said. “I wanted to explain my state of mind in the form of a book, acting as a bridge to connect each other.”
Although Kim finds counseling and visiting a psychiatrist is effective in fighting depression today, at first, it was hard for her to accept that she needed help.
“I denied the fact that I was going through depression because I thought that visiting a psychiatrist was a big deal,” Kim admitted. “However, as I read through my journal to write this book, I felt that I really needed someone to talk to about my feelings.”
Kim also explained how people tend to think that the key to every issue is self-love, as many believe that mental problems occur because sufferers do not fully endorse themselves.
“Media portrays self-love to be the only solution to all problems,” Kim said. “So I tried all sorts of ways like looking in the mirror and encouraging myself and writing journals, but it didn’t help. I realized that I have loved myself all along, but I just didn’t know how to show it to myself through action.”
Just like Kim, many people go through depression in various forms, from subtle to severe. However, Kim expressed dismay in that, although depression is fairly common, people view it with prejudice.
“I think most people are still unfamiliar with the real symptoms of depression because those with depression hide their conditions as it is deemed negative,” Kim said. “People should be able to discuss and share their experiences freely so that more examples and information are brought up to help others.”
She explained how the negative perception of depression could lead to more serious problems.
“I’ve heard that there is a rumor that if a person has a record of visiting a psychiatrist, there are disadvantages when applying for a job,” Kim said. “The fundamental problem with this is that people struggling with depression will feel hesitant to receive the treatment they need.”
Kim also gave advice for those who are struggling with depression today.
“Having deep and constant conversations with people around you is necessary,” Kim said. “I interviewed my mom for quotes to use in my book as an excuse to get to know each other better. Surprisingly, the misunderstandings that we’d had for three years were resolved within hours.”
She added that most importantly, it is critical to accept the fact that it is okay to get help.
“Even though you think it may seem peripheral, you can go to a counselor or a psychiatrist anytime and feel much better,” Kim said. “Although taking the first step may be difficult, it’s really not a big deal so don’t be too concerned.”
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