Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic at [email protected]

For a long time in my life I felt like I’ve 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 as 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,
that’s what they would tell you, and that’s a huge part of me,
that is who I am. 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. For someone
who has never experienced depression, or doesn’t really know what that means, that might surprise them to hear because there’s a popular misconception that depression is just being sad
when something in your life goes wrong. When you break up
with your girlfriend, 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 sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when
everything in your life is going right. That’s real depression,
and that’s what I suffer from. And, to be totally be honest, that’s hard
for me, to stand up here and say. It’s hard for me to talk about it. And it seems to be hard
for everyone to talk about it. So much so that no one
is talking about it. And no one is 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,
we don’t see it on Facebook, on Twitter, we don’t see it on the news because
it’s not happy, not fun, not light. And so, because we don’t see it,
we don’t see the severity of it. But the severity of it,
the seriousness is this: every 30 seconds, somewhere,
someone in the world takes their own life
because of depression. And it might be two blocks away, it may be
two countries away, 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 is was my problem because I sat on the edge of my bed, where I’d sat a million times before, and 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 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 Roll and at every party. So you would say I wasn’t depressed
or suicidal, but you’d be wrong. I sat through that night
beside a bottle of pills, with a pen and paper in my hand, and I thought about taking my own life,
and I came this close to doing it. I came this close
to doing it. And I didn’t. That makes me one of the lucky ones, one of the people who gets to step out
onto the ledge and 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: 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, afraid people would see me
for who I really was, that I wasn’t the perfect, popular kid
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. Some people might fear
girls not liking them back. Some people might fear sharks, or death, but for me, for a large part
of my life, I feared myself. I feared my truth,
my honesty, my vulnerability, and that fear made me feel
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 here, I’ve thought about it again since,
because that’s the sickness. That’s the struggle. That’s depression. And depression is not chicken pox, you don’t beat it once and it’s gone
forever, you live with it it. It’s something you live in,
it’s the roommate you can’t kick out, the voice you can’t ignore,
the feelings you can’t seem to escape. And the scariest part is, after a while, you become numb to it,
it becomes normal for you. And what you really fear the most
isn’t the suffering inside of you, it’s the stigma inside of others;
the shame, the embarrassment, the disapproving look on a friend’s face, the whispers in the hall that you’re weak,
the comments that you’re crazy. That’s what keeps you from getting help,
makes you hold it in and hide it. It’s the stigma.
So you hold it in and you hide it. And even though it’s keeping you
in bed every day, and it’s making your life feel empty, no matter how much
you try to fill it, you hide it because the stigma in our society
around 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 status say you’re having a tough time getting
out of bed because you hurt your back, or you’re having a tough time getting out of bed every morning
because 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 accepting of any body part breaking down
other than our brains. And that’s ignorance.
That’s pure ignorance. And that has created a world
that doesn’t understand depression, that doesn’t understand mental health, and that’s ironic to me because depression
is one of the best-documented problems we have in the world
and yet it’s one of the least discussed. We just push it aside, put it in a corner, pretend it’s not there,
and hope it will 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 problem
is recognizing there is one. Well, we haven’t done that. We can’t really expect to 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 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 have come to realize, if there’s one thing that I see
is the biggest problem, it’s not in building a world where
we eliminate the ignorance of others. It’s in building a world where we teach
the acceptance of ourselves. When we’re OK with who we are because when we get honest,
we see that we all struggle and suffer whether it’s with this, 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 cut that we’re content to put a Band-Aid over and pretend it’s not there;
well, it is there. And you know what? It’s OK. Depression is OK if you are going
through it know that you’re OK, 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, the ridicule, 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 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 it’s put me in the valleys,
but only to show me there’s peaks. And yes it’s dragged me through the dark,
but only to remind me there’s light. And my pain, more than anything,
in 19 years on this planet has given me perspective. And my hurt, my hurt’s forced me
to have hope. To have hope and to have faith.
Faith in myself. Faith in others. Faith that it can get better,
can change this, that we can speak up. And 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 one where embracing your light
doesn’t mean ignoring your dark. The world I believe in is one where we’re measured by our ability
to overcome adversities not avoid them. The world I believe in is one where I can look
someone in the eye and say, “I’m going through hell.” And they can look back at me
and go, “Me too, and that’s OK.” And it’s OK because depression
is okay. We’re people. And we struggle, and we suffer,
and we bleed, and we cry, and if you think that true strength
means never showing any weakness, then I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Because it’s the opposite. We’re people, and we have problems. And we’re not perfect, and that’s OK.
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 problem
that people are battling alone, is 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)

About the author


  1. I believe the best medication against depression, is to stop thinking about yourself all the time. Go help someone, do some charity work! We live in an over-individualistic society that has deformed the true nature of a human being. Just as an example, if you look in the mirror 24/7, for sure you will find something wrong. But if you look at yourself through the eyes of the people you give love to, people you help, surely you will find something beautiful within you. What do you guys think?

  2. An amazing young man. An inspiration to all. I wish you a long and content life, Kevin. Keep on passing the open doors.

  3. I agree with him that ppl who havent suffered from depression cannot truly understand the ppl who are struggling.Usually, they'll say things like: " get it together" or " stop thinking, just do it" , but I think he is way overgeneralizationg when it comes to society's opinion. From what he says it seems like he has no real friends- only superficial crowd he hangs out with.

  4. The hardest thing is speaking up & admitting it. Everything he said was on point & for anyone to say he's full of it, is very wrong! You can not speak for anyone else in how their brain functions. Too many people give up because they simply are afraid to talk about it & seek the help they really need. We need compassion & acceptance of everyone…period! Thank you for speaking up Kevin…truly admirable of you!!

  5. That made me speechless. I've always, always wanted to express my thoughts like he did. Thank you, Kevin Breel, for saying what I could not. In such a great way, if I may add. I needed that, and so does everyone else. If we all watch this once a day, along with thinking about all the other problems in the world we come to face each day, I am sure we would become more aware. We would become more mindful if not becoming an up-stander.

  6. Ok fair enough if that is the case! I guess for me it comes off wrong is all, just that little bit. I guess perception is half the battle. The rest is great. To me you have to be careful to say how it is to you when it can be different for others that's all I meant.

  7. This is possibly my favourite ted talk I've seen, He is so brave and honest about his depression and sets an example of what it's like to openly talk about mental illnesses.

  8. You can hide depression! Medication generally makes things worse but most people need more than love though! That is a good start though!

  9. Just some things not to say to people with a mental illness

    1 Get busy, and distract yourself
    2 Do you want to get better?
    3 Change your attitude
    4. Stop focusing on the bad stuff, and just start living
    5 You have everything you need to get better
    6 You can snap out of it. Everyone feels this way sometimes
    7 Just pray about it
    8 Why can’t you work?
    9 You have the same illness as my ______
    10 Happiness is a choice

  10. You were sad not depressed did you even watch or understand the whole speech? On a side note take your intolerance and jam it up your prostate.

  11. I'm very sorry. What I said earlier was insensitive towards you and your situation. I was just worked up over the fact that you thought he was a fool. I realize now that it was simply a difference of opinion, and I sincerely apologize to you. I'm glad that you recovered from your breakdown, and I wish you continued success and happiness. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some of my own intolerance to jam up my prostate.

  12. People are selfish. They flee from people that don't pass them something positive. People only like to suck good from others.

  13. Thank you for sharing. I am in the same boat as you and for so long could never talk about it. I know what you mean about people finding out and fearing yourself. Thank you Thank you Thank you

  14. Omg this is one of the most beautiful thing I have ever listened to. I could tell he was getting a little choked up near the end. I admire him so much now. He should be a motivational speaker or something. That was amazing.

  15. Why are you cast down, oh my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?
    Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
    Psalm 43:5

  16. the hardest part of depression is admitting to yourself that you have it and to ask for help cause it will hit one's pride badly

  17. someone I know (you know who you are)  needs to watch this and realize that no one is truly alone…  I too have stood at the cliff and turned away….

  18. Wow amazing speech. Identifying the problem. Im glad that you bought that up. such a huge saying. Xoxo Keep doing you and keep spreading he message. Aloha

  19. the first time I watched this I was in my psychology class and it almost made me cry and since then I have watched it many more times and it still does because of how familiar this feels from my own life, every word he says is true and the biggest truth I found in this video is that the majority of my friends are surprised when I tell them that I suffer from depression because otherwise they wouldn't know….I feel like everyone here that thinks this is the truth should share this wish others to spread awareness and help those in need that wont do so for themselves

  20. This is the most honest talk about depression. i used to watch too much talks like "telling everyone you meet,  that they're awesome, always put a smile on your face, and start making the world better" and such. It makes me numb. He's right, we are people. How come we are able to accept and praise effectivity and intolerance trait of machine, but not humanistic side of depression

  21. I have watched this so many times. Even know Kevin is 30 years younger than myself, I so identify with everything he said. Sharing my mental illness on facebook with friends and 'friends' has made me a better person and other friends have come out and told their story.  It is sad that there is a stigma and we feel like we have to 'come out' to people, but that is how it is.  I think society is changing and there is better understanding of this illness now.  Peace All! 

  22. I don't know what's going on with the video, but the sound isn't working when I try to watch it… I don't think it's my phone..?

  23. Thank you, for your courage of speaking up about depression. I understand how hard it is to speak up and tell people about depression. I have been starting to talk about my battle with depression and I know how hard it is to speak up. Thank you so much, you encourage me to keep speaking up. 🙂

  24. i've watched this video since a while back now but every time i watch it back it still gets to me. i know what he's talking about and i feel the same way and it's as true and pure as it could ever get. we're taught that it's shameful to struggle with depression or any type of mental problems or complications and we're taught that we should hide and cover up what people don't want to see or hear about but the truth is i am just so sick of it after all these years. why can't we just accept that this is the world we live in and come up with a solution, a way to fix it and make it a better place for all of us. 

  25. "Unfortunately we live in a world where when 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 down, other than our brains."

    You are an answered prayer for me, Kevin. 

  26. Thank-you Kevin for being so brave to tell your story and my story and I am sure many others story.Love and Blessings brother.

  27. I don't suffer from depression but I know friends that do. Yes I've had trouble understanding it as many people do.
    Thank you for your Frank honesty about this subject & teaching us to be be aware & compassionate towards those who suffer.
    Its wonderful you have spoken up & it is truly a give to those unheard voices.
    God bless.

  28. im scared to comment but maybe give a go i think i have anciety i got to phycologist and phyciatrist like going to the doctor should be same i might be depressed i dont know i do my best sometimes it feel i like this guy maybe hate no i say frightening to see if i say this whats the worst that can happen i think the honesty is good i tell people i have anixety maybe thats bad no i just be myself love each other maybe

  29. I've been struggling with depression for 40 years. This young man says it better than anyone I've ever heard. Thank you!

  30. For many many years now, I've always been against the usage of the term 'depression' loosely, and I've always asked my close ones to not use the term because it hurts.

    Depression is NOT sadness. It is not = grief when things are wrong. It is not when you cry because you broke up or had a fight with your parents/ friends or had a horrible week. We as a society need to understand what Depression (and other psychological disorders) is and please please.. work together to remove the stigma. Knowledge is power. This is reality. And Depression (and other psychological disorders) requires the SAME support and acceptance as any medical condition. Maybe more- because healing the body is perhaps easier than healing the mind.

    This kid bravely speaks to the world what most of us cannot even speak to ourselves. Thank you Kevin.

  31. I'm so glad that somebody else gets that there's a difference between sadness and depression. And that there's somebody else that can tell what I've been through and how I've felt

  32. I cried throughout this whole video
    It was so true & so beautiful

    He's an amazing video
    He is making a difference
    Saving lives and saying the truth that so many in society are afraid to admit
    Giving a voice to the feels and pain so many of us have buried inside

    Thank you
    The world needs more people like you and one day I hope your ideal world will match the real one

  33. There is beauty in heartships, there are pomes in grief. There is wisdom in sorrow, though they may shake our beliefs.

  34. Some people want to think that their lives are  going well and they´re depressed while everything is going well but if we look deeper we can see the reality of painful situations that surround our lives which are extreme and not normal problems.

  35. So well said Kevin. Public acceptance is very hard when this condition is not easily seen or understood by those who have not been there-done that. Love the analogy of the cast.

  36. I definitely feel we are starting to recognise mental illness, of course there's a long way to go, but we have started to make progress. I think as long as there are people out there, often those with a lived experience, wanting to change the world, things can improve. Every word that came out of Kevin's mouth I completely resonate with, great talk.

  37. Story of my life.. smart as hell straight A all my life… grad school 4.33 gpa.. doing amazing work still in my 20s yet depressed as hell.. previous suicide attempt…just like him except that I swallowed the pills and work up in the ER after multiple electric shocks. people look at you an think you have it all.. you are the go to for everyone but deep inside the story is different. This huge dark cloud hanging over my head, this horrible feeling that never goes away.. You are ashamed to truly express how you feel… smh

  38. This is exactly what I've suffered for a long time == And still not get over… Thanks for uploading this video 🙁

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  40. Still my favorite TED Talk because it's a personal problem that I've struggled with for a long time. He explains an avoided problem that most people who suffer from can't put into words.

  41. Thank you Kevin. I know you'll never see this, but you have helped me every day since I found this video over 4 years ago.
    I constantly tell people what you said"We are so accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brains.". I'd like to think that the people I meet are more accepting of this, but there's a long way to go.

  42. What stood out to me in this video was that depression is a taboo subject in the media and its a tough subject to talk about so people don't discuss it as much as they should. I would apply this to my practices by knowing that people with depression have bad days and keep that in mind while caring for them. Also making sure that you try to help with making their day even just the smallest bit better.

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