Depression is a lonely and isolating illness, not only because of the nature of the ailment itself, but the negative stigma surrounding it.
Here in Indonesia, people with depression more often than not have to deal with accusations ranging from being weak and ungrateful with their lives to not being religious enough. Instead of lending a hand to help those with depression, people tell them to “grow up” or “snap out of it.”
Concerned with the situation, two Jakartans launched an initiative called Get Happy to help people with depression to be less lonely and isolated, and eventually to make peace with the disease and find a way to be happier.
Co-founder Caecilia Dee Tedjapawitra said she was suffering from depression to the point of being suicidal, but was saved by friends who lent helping hands and supported her.
“Get Happy exists because we feel that there are many people out there who need a sanctuary, a platform to share and give support, to learn together and be enlightened from different perspectives on depression and mental health in Indonesia,” said Dee, who co-founded the initiative with partner Andre Adianto.
Through its website and social media channels, Get Happy provides education and information to counter the stigma about depression, and overcome the taboo to talk about depression openly.
People can send articles to share their experiences of dealing with depression or in accompanying people with depression, there are reviews and information/resources to help people educate themselves about this issue, or to get some help.
There are also a series of off-line events, an Alcoholic Anonymous-like gathering where people can share their stories and do therapeutic activities such as art therapy.
“The events aim to build a community and to welcome and give support to people who need it and care for it,” Dee said.
However, many questioned Dee and Andre as to why they formed this initiative, to which they said that it was to “help others help us.”
“We created this to help ourselves, too. We hope that by sharing stories and experience, it would not only inspire others but inspire us to help the forms of depression that we are dealing,” said Andre.
“One thing for sure, even though you are dealing with depression, it does not mean that you have to be alone.”