Yesterday, during the Juan for All segment in the long-running Filipino noontime show Eat Bulaga, the topic of depression came up.
And boy, was it awkward!
Joey de Leon, a veteran of Filipino tv and cinema, as well as one of the “founding brothers” of the noontime show, said what will come down in PH history as among the most ignorant and disgusting things ever said about depression on live tv:
“Yang depression, gawa-gawa lang yan… Gawa nila sa sarili nila.” (That depression, it’s only made up. They make it up for themselves.)
“Huwag niyo suportahan, gawa-gawa lang nila ‘yon.” (Don’t support them, they’re just making it up.)
Oh no he didn’t?
Yes. Yes, he did. Unfortunately.
Most unfortunate of all is the fact that depression is still largely a taboo topic in this country, and that is due to the fact that the Philippines is populated with hundreds and thousands of Joey de Leons.
I’m not talking about people who share the name (although there is probably a lot of that too -both first name and surname are pretty common), but rather people who share that way of thinking.
So many people out there would invalidate your feelings and struggles, most of the time not even intentionally. They think they’re helping, when in fact they’re making it worse. They would be so quick to say, “mind over matter” or, “think positive”. Maybe that would work with simple, run-of-the-mill sadness. But guys,
DEPRESSION IS NOT SADNESS.
Depression is something that goes deeper, and is much more damaging and dangerous. It is the climate to sadness’ weather. Sadness comes and goes according to the situation. Depression, folks, is here to stay.
Of course, it is also something that is very difficult to explain to someone who has not gone through it themselves.
Mr. Joey de Leon, maybe you said those things because you have never experienced depression yourself, and if so, lucky you.
But there are those who struggle to get up from bed every morning, because just the act of living is such a struggle in and of itself. There are those who have thoughts of harming themselves and even ending their lives, because sometimes the burden feels too great and tomorrow seems so bleak and hopeless.
Your mind is a prison and depression is the warden.
If you have never experienced these things, then good for you. But maybe be more sensitive towards those who suffer through it? Trust me, depression is punishment enough on its own, without the added burden of ignorant, insensitive people like you who are only capable of seeing things through their own myopic eyes.
IT IS SO EASY TO DISMISS WHAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
When Maine Mendoza, a young, up-and-coming host at Eat Bulaga, attempted to explain to Joey de Leon that depression is very real and serious, that so many people suffer from it and we should support them, he shot her down.
What. An. Ignorant. Dick.
This is why we need to raise awareness regarding mental health.
To avoid bigots like Joey de Leon from dealing further damage by propagating the lie that depression is a figment of people’s imagination, and invalidating the struggles of people who have to deal with depression every day of their lives.
To allow friends and family to understand the illness (because it is a medical condition, as much an illness as asthma or hypertension), and know how best to support their loved ones and maybe help them carry the burden, so it feels even just a bit lighter.
To lessen the instances of suicide by knowing how to spot the signs and respond accordingly, how to make the victim feel loved and less lonely and less alone.
So many people unknowingly inflict harm by being a Joey de Leon.
Guys, educate yourselves.
Be more of a Maine Mendoza in a country full of Joey de Leons, and maybe in that process, you’ll save a life.