I heard about the Lufthansa airplane crash in passing.
It happened in a weird way.
I was absentmindedly cruising through Facebook when I stumbled upon a status update from a German friend of mine who used to be a pilot for Lufthansa, wherein she wrote about how the route being flown by the plane that crashed had been one of her routine routes. (Before she started modeling for weird articles about sex lists and stuff.)
So I knew about the crash when I was walking back to my desk at my job, when I passed the TV and stopped in my tracks to check out the fiery wreckage, as so many thousands of rubber-neckers did that day.
150 people were thought dead, obliterated when the plane crashed into a mountain. Countless people were obliterated, completely erased from existence, for no good goddamn reason. People died because they bought a ticket and took the ride—something many of us do on the regular. We trust our lives to pilots we blindly assume will get us to where we’re trying to go. And we don’t question it.
The next day, I was walking past the same TV again when I saw more news coverage, this time with a headline about the co-pilot’s documented struggle with depression, which people have since been connecting with his decision to take a plane through an eight-minute dive while 150 people sat in seats behind him and the plane’s pilot banged on the cockpit door.
Think about the kind of person who is completely prepared to take not only his life, but the lives of more than 100 people on his way out. The person who locked a cockpit and took down a plane full of people he didn’t know from fucking Adam.
Is the person who did that a “depressed person?”
But if you think that mere depression is what made Andreas Lubitz decide to do what he did, you’re wrong. And you’re ignorant.
Because Andreas Lubitz was not a depressed person. He may have struggled with depression—I’m sure he did—but Andreas Lubitz was an evil, insane person. A person whose actions are unexplainable. We can say he was mentally ill, but nobody can say to what horrific extent.
As a depressed person—and this may be a hot take, but fuck it—to be categorized within the same parameters as Lubitz, must feel a bit like what Muslims (you know, the majority of whom don’t kill people in the name of religion) feel when ignorant people lump them in with ISIS members.
Why am I upset by this?
Because there is already such a negative stigma surrounding depression. A stigma that plays a part in preventing depressed people from seeking or getting the help they need. Because once you’re labeled a depressed person, you’re a depressed person forever, like a recovering alcoholic. And nobody wants that—some to the point that they’re willing to live in extreme pain, without therapy, medicine or even a person to confide in. (And being in your own head when you’re depressed is fucking dark, man.)
Some people treat you differently. And it may negatively affect your job and relationship prospects. I’ve often talked about taking my prescription for anxiety and depression on first dates, just because I don’t want to waste time getting to know someone who has a distorted idea of depression and how people deal with it. (Also because I can usually slip in something about how the pills give me pretty awesome sexual longevity.)
But depressed people are not evil. Whatever the fuck Lubitz was, is symptomatic of something else. You do not need to be afraid or wary of depressed people. You can treat them just like anybody else, even!
Depressed people don’t set out to hurt others. We may be jealous that other people can go through life not ever feeling the way we do, but that doesn’t mean we want them to die or anything. We don’t even want them to feel what we feel.
A depressed person might ultimately kill himself. It’s unfathomably sad that this happens so often, but there you have it. Thing is, though, he’s going to take himself out. Not, you know, 150 strangers along the way.
I just wanted to make sure you all knew this was the case. Because the media’s priority is to get clicks and views, they connect depression to heinous act of mass murder by an evil person instead of spending some time explaining how important it is to seek help if you feel depressed or “off” in any way, and that you need to continuously treat yourself so that you prevent something snapping if you do indeed have some sort of unknown evil in you.
Good talk. Thanks for letting me vent. I hope you all fly safe and stay safe and are able to find some doses of happiness even in the bleakest of times. And I hope that you realize that there are depressed people all around you. They’re in every walk of life you can imagine. Some are flying planes. Some are teaching your kids. Some are writers trying to make sense of the way this affliction they’ve had thrust upon them affects the way that the people they interact with daily decide to view them (and it is a decision).
I hope you know that a depressed person will never hurt you physically or mentally, especially purposefully, specifically because he or she is depressed.
Please don’t treat them like they would.
Because that’s hurtful. And we’re a pretty sensitive group.