Student responds to Springfest performer’s discourse

Alex Appel, Editor in Chief

During his performance at Springfest, Futuristic made a very poignant comment about depression and suicidal thoughts. I commend him for addressing the very real struggle with depression that many people, including students at this college, go through and for being honest about his own experiences with suicidal thoughts. But there was something in his comment that rubbed me the wrong way – it was the implication that, when going through a bad time, it is helpful to remember that someone always has it worse.

Every single person can look back at their lives and agree that someone, somewhere out has it worse. Union students especially agree with this sentiment – we are young, we are free and we attend an amazing educational institution. Despite this knowledge, many students at this school will struggle with mental illness. So why are people suffering when things could be worse?

Every person has different reasons. Often, strife can be rooted in facing new problems that one does not know how to deal with. Even if these problems seem insignificant compared to issues such as poverty, famine, disease or genocide, people struggle to cope because they do not know how to.

Sometimes, putting these problems in perspective may be helpful because they can remind us that people survive through worse and that we can figure out a way to make it through. Sometimes, the reminder that “somebody always has it worse” can be dismissive. This reminder can be used to diminish a problem and outright ignore it. Slaves had it worse, Holocaust survivors had it worse. Do we really have a right to be complaining about systemic racial discrimination or shooters in synagogues? People have had it worse.

When we compare our problems to the greatest extremes, they seem insignificant. Except they aren’t always. It IS important to remember that there are worse things out there in the world, that many people are in worse situations – it puts our lives into perspective and helps us appreciate everything good we have going on.

But remembering this does not change the fact that sometimes people do not feel good. Our society often discusses mental health problems through the perspective of people who are triggered. Some people are triggered into periods of depression or anxiety by specific circumstances, and some people are triggered into episodes by specific events or memories. Rarely do we talk about people who just feel certain ways.

For many people, depression is not just a bad day or a bad week. It can be months or years of apathy, misery or just a sheer lack of control of emotions. Perhaps there is a reason for these negative emotions, but for many people, they do not know what it is. They simply have to deal with them, somehow, for however long that they are there. And when you’re wading through a period of depression that seems to be endless, “someone has it worse” does not help. In fact, sometimes it makes things a lot worse. It can create a sense of shame over being so affected by “stupid” problems or make it hard to get help out of a fear of being dismissed. And it can prolong these periods of darkness for those reasons.

What he said was not perfect. Why that’s the case should be discussed, not to condemn him, but to have an honest discourse on how depression is experienced by a lot of people and why the knowledge that things can be worse does not make things better.

But “hang in there” really can. Futuristic did a really good thing by acknowledging the fact that many people listening to him during Springfest were going through dark times. He did a good job by telling them that they are not alone, that they can hang in there and things will get better. He did a good thing by discussing these problems in the open and with no shame.