A while ago, someone said to me that most people who suffer from depression are 'attention seekers'.
"That's not true," I replied. "While there are exceptions to the rule, most people who suffer from depression are legitimately sick. They're in a world of pain. And their pain is made all the worse because so many people don't understand them."
The bloke shook his head.
"I agree with you that depression is an illness," he said, "but I still think most people who suffer from it are doing it for attention."
"Log on to Facebook," I said.
"I want to show you something."
With a puzzled look on his face, he took his phone out of his pocket and opened up Facebook.
"So what is it that you want to show me?"
"Open your 'friends' tab," I said.
"My 'friends' tab?"
He was still confused, but he did so.
"OK, done," he said.
"Cool. How many friends do you have?" I asked.
"Five hundred and thirty-five."
"OK. Now, scroll through your friends list, and count the number of people who you know have depression."
He started doing so.
"So how many of your friends have depression that you know of?" I asked when he was done.
"Four," he answered.
"Just four? Out of 535?"
"OK. Did you know that on average, one out of every 10 people suffer from depression? So that means that out of your 535 friends, the reality is that over 50 of them probably suffer."
"OK … what's your point?"
"My point is that if most people with depression are 'attention seekers' like you say, then wouldn't you know that they suffered from depression? Wouldn't they make a big song and dance about it? Wouldn't they constantly post status updates about how depressed they're feeling and always upload pictures of themselves feeling miserable, standing on the edge of a bridge, or self-harming?"
"But hardly anyone does that, do they?"
I paused again.
"The fact that you know of only four friends out of 535 who have depression is proof that the majority of people with depression are not attention seekers. In fact, it's evidence of the complete opposite - it shows that most people with depression are secretive about their illness. It shows that most people with depression hide their pain with a smile. And they do this because they think that people who don't understand the facts will judge them if they talk."
The guy just looked at me, sheepish, unable to say anything.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may be interested in reading my memoir "The Danny Baker Story - Proof That You Can Recover From Depression And Find Happiness Again", which is available on Amazon. Recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression, it's rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and according to multiple-bestselling author Nick Bleszynski, is "beautifully written, powerful, heartfelt, insightful and inspiring … a testament to hope".
Danny Baker is an author, life coach and mental health advocate from Sydney, Australia.