Kevin Breel didn’t look like a depressed kid: team captain, at every party, funny and confident. But he tells the story of the night he realized that — to save his own life — he needed to say four simple words. Video Credit: Ted.com
For a long time in my life,I felt like I’d been living two different lives.There’s the life that everyone sees,and then there’s the life that only I see.And in the life that everyone sees,who I am is a friend,a son, a brother,a stand-up comedian and a teenager.That’s the life everyone sees.If you were to ask my friends and family to describe me,that’s what they would tell you.And that’s a huge part of me. That is who I am.And if you were to ask me to describe myself,I’d probably say some of those same things.And I wouldn’t be lying,but I wouldn’t totally be telling you the truth, either,because the truth is,that’s just the life everyone else sees.In the life that only I see, who I am,who I really am,is someone who struggles intensely with depression.I have for the last six years of my life,and I continue to every day.
Now, for someone who has never experienced depressionor doesn’t really know what that means,that might surprise them to hear,because there’s this pretty popular misconceptionthat depression is just being sadwhen something in your life goes wrong,when you break up with your girlfriend,when you lose a loved one,when you don’t get the job you wanted.But that’s sadness. That’s a natural thing.That’s a natural human emotion.Real depression isn’t being sadwhen something in your life goes wrong.Real depression is being sadwhen everything in your life is going right.That’s real depression, and that’s what I suffer from.
And to be totally honest,that’s hard for me to stand up here and say.It’s hard for me to talk about,and it seems to be hard for everyone to talk about,so much so that no one’s talking about it.And no one’s talking about depression, but we need to be,because right now it’s a massive problem.It’s a massive problem.But we don’t see it on social media, right?We don’t see it on Facebook. We don’t see it on Twitter.We don’t see it on the news, because it’s not happy,it’s not fun, it’s not light.And so because we don’t see it, we don’t see the severity of it.
But the severity of it and the seriousness of it is this:every 30 seconds,every 30 seconds, somewhere,someone in the world takes their own lifebecause of depression,and it might be two blocks away, it might be two countries away,it might be two continents away, but it’s happening,and it’s happening every single day.And we have a tendency, as a society,to look at that and go, “So what?”So what? We look at that, and we go, “That’s your problem.That’s their problem.”We say we’re sad and we say we’re sorry,but we also say, “So what?”
Well, two years ago it was my problem,because I sat on the edge of my bedwhere I’d sat a million times beforeand I was suicidal.I was suicidal, and if you were to look at my life on the surface,you wouldn’t see a kid who was suicidal.You’d see a kid who was the captain of his basketball team,the drama and theater student of the year,the English student of the year,someone who was consistently on the honor rolland consistently at every party.So you would say I wasn’t depressed, you would sayI wasn’t suicidal, but you would be wrong.You would be wrong. So I sat there that nightbeside a bottle of pills with a pen and paper in my handand I thought about taking my own lifeand I came this close to doing it.I came this close to doing it.
And I didn’t, so that makes me one of the lucky ones,one of the people who gets to step out on the ledgeand look down but not jump,one of the lucky ones who survives.Well, I survived, and that just leaves me with my story,and my story is this:In four simple words, I suffer from depression.I suffer from depression,and for a long time, I think,I was living two totally different lives,where one person was always afraid of the other.I was afraid that people would see me for who I really was,that I wasn’t the perfect, popular kid in high school everyone thought I was,that beneath my smile, there was struggle,and beneath my light, there was dark,and beneath my big personality just hid even bigger pain.
See, some people might fear girls not liking them back.Some people might fear sharks. Some people might fear death.But for me, for a large part of my life, I feared myself.I feared my truth, I feared my honesty, I feared my vulnerability,and that fear made me feellike I was forced into a corner,like I was forced into a corner and there was only one way out,and so I thought about that way every single day.I thought about it every single day,and if I’m being totally honest, standing hereI’ve thought about it again since, because that’s the sickness,that’s the struggle, that’s depression,and depression isn’t chicken pox.You don’t beat it once and it’s gone forever.It’s something you live with. It’s something you live in.It’s the roommate you can’t kick out. It’s the voice you can’t ignore.It’s the feelings you can’t seem to escape,the scariest part is that after a while,you become numb to it. It becomes normal for you,and what you really fear the mostisn’t the suffering inside of you.It’s the stigma inside of others,it’s the shame, it’s the embarrassment,it’s the disapproving look on a friend’s face,it’s the whispers in the hallway that you’re weak,it’s the comments that you’re crazy.That’s what keeps you from getting help.That’s what makes you hold it in and hide it.It’s the stigma. So you hold it in and you hide it,and you hold it in and you hide it,and even though it’s keeping you in bed every dayand it’s making your life feel empty no matter how much you try and fill it,you hide it, because the stigma in our societyaround depression is very real.It’s very real, and if you think that it isn’t, ask yourself this:Would you rather make your next Facebook statussay you’re having a tough time getting out of bedbecause you hurt your back or you’re having a tough time getting out of bed every morningbecause you’re depressed?That’s the stigma, because unfortunately,we live in a world where if you break your arm,everyone runs over to sign your cast,but if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way.That’s the stigma.We are so, so, so accepting of any body part breaking downother than our brains. And that’s ignorance.That’s pure ignorance, and that ignorance has createda world that doesn’t understand depression,that doesn’t understand mental health.And that’s ironic to me, because depressionis one of the best documented problems we have in the world,yet it’s one of the least discussed.We just push it aside and put it in a cornerand pretend it’s not there and hope it’ll fix itself.
Well, it won’t. It hasn’t, and it’s not going to,because that’s wishful thinking,and wishful thinking isn’t a game plan, it’s procrastination,and we can’t procrastinate on something this important.The first step in solving any problemis recognizing there is one.Well, we haven’t done that, so we can’t really expectto find an answer when we’re still afraid of the question.
And I don’t know what the solution is.I wish I did, but I don’t — but I think,I think it has to start here.It has to start with me, it has to start with you,it has to start with the people who are suffering,the ones who are hidden in the shadows.We need to speak up and shatter the silence.We need to be the ones who are brave for what we believe in,because if there’s one thing that I’ve come to realize,if there’s one thing that I see as the biggest problem,it’s not in building a worldwhere we eliminate the ignorance of others.It’s in building a world where we teach the acceptance of ourselves,where we’re okay with who we are,because when we get honest,we see that we all struggle and we all suffer.Whether it’s with this, whether it’s with something else,we all know what it is to hurt.We all know what it is to have pain in our heart,and we all know how important it is to heal.But right now, depression is society’s deep cutthat we’re content to put a Band-Aid over and pretend it’s not there.
Well, it is there. It is there, and you know what? It’s okay.Depression is okay. If you’re going through it, know that you’re okay.And know that you’re sick, you’re not weak,and it’s an issue, not an identity,because when you get past the fear and the ridiculeand the judgment and the stigma of others,you can see depression for what it really is,and that’s just a part of life,just a part of life, and as much as I hate,as much as I hate some of the places,some of the parts of my life depression has dragged me down to,in a lot of ways I’m grateful for it.Because yeah, it’s put me in the valleys,but only to show me there’s peaks,and yeah it’s dragged me through the darkbut only to remind me there is light.My pain, more than anything in 19 years on this planet,has given me perspective, and my hurt,my hurt has forced me to have hope,have hope and to have faith, faith in myself,faith in others, faith that it can get better,that we can change this, that we can speak upand speak out and fight back against ignorance,fight back against intolerance,and more than anything,learn to love ourselves,learn to accept ourselves for who we are,the people we are, not the people the world wants us to be.Because the world I believe in is onewhere embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.The world I believe in is one where we’re measuredby our ability to overcome adversities, not avoid them.The world I believe in is one where I can look someone in the eyeand say, “I’m going through hell,”and they can look back at me and go, “Me too,” and that’s okay,and it’s okay because depression is okay. We’re people.We’re people, and we struggle and we sufferand we bleed and we cry, and if you think that true strengthmeans never showing any weakness, then I’m hereto tell you you’re wrong.You’re wrong, because it’s the opposite.We’re people, and we have problems.We’re not perfect, and that’s okay.
So we need to stop the ignorance,stop the intolerance, stop the stigma,and stop the silence, and we need to take away the taboos,take a look at the truth, and start talking,because the only way we’re going to beat a problemthat people are battling aloneis by standing strong together,by standing strong together.
And I believe that we can.I believe that we can. Thank you guys so much.This is a dream come true. Thank you. (Applause)Thank you. (Applause)