article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 25, 2017.
Three weeks ago, The Mighty, a website that only publishes articles having to do with illnesses and chronic conditions, broke a story about kick boxer Andrew Tate who tweeted some seriously ignorant thoughts recently. He began a twitter thread where he began to describe how ‘depression isn’t real.’
The thread, which is more than a hundred tweets long, is extremely offensive and anxiety-inducing, to say the least. I’m here to summarize it, tell you why it matters and speak not only to Andrew Tate, but all the people agreeing with him.
When you’re a celebrity, you have a platform. You also know that whatever you say on your platform will be scrutinized whether it is the popular opinion or not.
Andrew Tate has not rescinded any of his tweets. This means people can still read them, and that’s dangerous.
Before I delve deeper, I want to make one thing clear: whether or not Tate is trolling, he is still causing a problem. By trolling, he’s welcoming those who agree to bully and shame those who are mentally ill, thus causing more issues.
On September 7, 2017, Andrew Tate tweeted out the following, “Depression isn’t real. You feel sad, you move on. You will always be depressed if your life is depressing. Change it.” He mostly draws attention to people he believes aren’t making the most of their situations. He tweets, “Sure. Natural to sometimes FEEL depressed. It doesn’t make it a DISEASE. I feel hungry sometimes, then I change it.”
As if these thoughts weren’t dangerous enough, he even begins to call out people specifically for their appearances as they reply to him. He cites others’ photos, picks on them for their physical attributes and then makes comments about other irrelevant things.
Like I said before, one of the biggest issues is that when you utilize a platform, you’re going to be scrutinized, no matter what you say. In tweeting these things, Tate also sparked other debates about feminism, masculinity and gender bias.
Speaking this way to a vulnerable audience is dangerous. While Tate may believe that it will ‘help’ these people, he has accomplished the opposite; making people upset, anxious and depressed.
Why is this a problem, you ask? Not only is this man going out of his way to try and ‘prove’ that depression isn’t real; he’s gathering a group of people with a toxic way of thinking together to encourage the bullying of people who struggle with mental illness.
These people direct messaging Tate to agree are fueling the fire of those who think it’s acceptable to speak this way to anyone struggling.
September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, which means we dedicate this time to prevent and spread awareness of suicide and the effects it can have. Andrew Tate not only encourages the mindset of those who think suicide is cowardly but also encourages those who are suicidal because he’s invalidating them.
Let us not forget that in announcing that depression isn’t real, Tate and his followers are also invalidating every single public figure who has fallen victim to suicide.
What’s that Robin Williams? What did you say, Alexander McQueen? Sorry Chris Cornell and more recently, Chester Bennington. You guys just wallowed in pain and didn’t make the most of your situations! Sorry! If only you could be like Andrew Tate!
Andrew Tate believes he’s a winner because he won’t ‘let’ himself be depressed. It appears Andrew Tate wouldn’t know depression if it knocked him on his ass, and let’s hope for his sake, that it never does.
Nicole Lyons, of The Mighty, first brought my attention to the issue at hand. She says it best when she writes, “Unkind people are usually that way because others have been unkind to them, but there is no excuse for ignorance or complete denial of mental health issues. That is a dangerous thing. When ignorance is given a voice, ours must be louder.”
According to Andrew Tate, I’m depressed because I’m not changing anything for the better in my life. It’s because I’m being a ‘little bitch’ and believing in the ‘hoax’ of depression, right?
I am someone who fights every single day to get out of bed and get shit done. I refuse to wallow, and yet still, for some silly reason, I’m still depressed.
Explain that, Andrew Tate. Explain to me why, that despite my ever-growing efforts to be a successful woman, get a degree, a job, activities and work out among other things, why am I still depressed?
It’s because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and depression is fucking real. That’s right.
Here’s my open letter. Don’t worry, if you’re still reading, this will be short.
To all the Andrew Tates of the world: Fuck off. Everyone in the mentally ill community already deals with enough bullshit without having to deal with the likes of you. Are you allowed to have an opinion? Sure. Are you allowed to post that opinion? Sure.
But if you ever come face to face with mental illness or depression, I hope you have access to help. Because we’ve all been somewhere where that isn’t the case, and we were left to flounder until we grew stronger.
Cancer is just as real as depression; when you have cancer, you can’t cure it by saying, “Cancer isn’t real, I can still kick ass!” Stop treating mental illness like it isn’t illness. Both are debilitating and valid illnesses.
If you are someone who lives with mental illness or depression, you keep doing you. You’re out here killing the game, getting up every day and moving forward, even when it feels like all the forces in the world are moving against you. Even on the days when you’re not getting up or moving forward, you’re still fighting the good fight. Keep your head up and your eyes ahead – the future is coming and you’ll want to stick around for it.
I’m sorry that the Andrew Tates of the world are trying to discredit you and hold you back. Know that you are stronger than them and you can do this. Reach out and take a hand; we will work together to push forward. That’s all we can do – keep going. We’ll keep going together.
If you struggle with any of these issues and you need help, you can call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. You can also utilize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online chat.