A July 5 2019 Instagram post purportedly quoting actor Jim Carrey on depression appeared on Facebook in screenshot form. The original featured an image of the actor and attributed the following quote to him:
That unverified account, jimcarrey__, boasted nearly 700,000 followers and thus had significant reach. Next to the image, a transcription of the quote read:
I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t; exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance. #jimcarrey
Although it seemed likely that that account amplified attribution of the quote to Carrey, a July 1 2019 Facebook text-only post also credited Carrey with the commentary:
“Depression is your body saying, ‘I don’t want to be this character anymore. I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me,’” Carrey’s quote read. “You should think of the word ‘depressed’ as ‘deep rest.’ Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character you’ve been trying to play.”
In response, Carrey tweeted a sweet message to Grande [in 2018].
“I read your lovely mention of me and things I’ve said about depression,” Carrey wrote. “A brilliant teacher and friend, Jeff Foster was OG on the ‘Deep Rest’ concept. I admire your openness. I wish you freedom and peace. I feel blessed to have such a gifted admirer. Happy Easter!”
Searches on Facebook for “Jim Carrey depression quote” and “Jim Carrey depression meme” indicated that many users searched for and shared iterations of the meme to their pages. But a search up through September 9 2019 returned scant results, pointing primarily to meme-related sites. No interviews of a time when Carrey said “depression is legitimate” appeared in those results.
Restricting the search for “Jim Carrey” and “depression is legitimate” to June 2019 returned only 12 results, most of which were misdated or led to ongoing threads where the quote was added after June 2019. In a reverse image search, the specific photograph/quote combination appeared first on July 22 2019 on Imgur. Removing Jim Carrey’s name for the results and searching up to June 2019 again only returned 37 total hits.
Two top results led to a June 11 2019 tweet by user @Matt_S_Stephens. The quote matched exactly, but this time, it did not include a claim that Carrey made the comments:
Prior to the above tweet on June 11 2019, we were unable to locate results for the precise “depression is legitimate” quotation attributed to Carrey or any other person. That tweet received significant engagement alone, without the attribution, accruing more than 40,000 “likes” and 12,000 comments.
There are a number of reasons misattribution is potentially problematic for both Carrey and for those battling depression. As commenters on the original tweet noted the advice was not much help to depressed people, its “advice” was not very applicable, the tweet downplayed the role of clinical treatment for depression such as medication or therapy, and the commentary dismissed the fact that depression is a clinical, diagnosable illness. The tweet was also far less eloquent than Carrey’s above-quoted remarks, which did not fall into the trap of underestimating depression’s effects on those afflicted.
Although Jim Carrey has addressed depression before — and did so in a conversation with Ariana Grande — the “depression is legitimate” quote meme appeared to be improperly attributed. A Twitter user shared it in the tweet above, and by July 1 2019, it was circulating on Facebook attributed, inaccurately, to Carrey.