Depression… it’s a battle some fight every day of their lives. It’s not that these people “choose” to be sad. No one wants to be sad and honestly no one really wants to spend every day being told things like “Just get over it” or “It’s not really that bad”. I came across this article today and I wanted to touch on each item. As someone who suffers severely from Anxiety Disorder and Severe Depression I wanted to put a “real like person” perspective on each thing.
The first thing in this article is Depression is not a choice. Honestly depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s a trained way of thinking. It’s being told for years how worthless you are. It’s having everything going wrong all the time. It’s all of these things. No one chooses to be depressed and trust me when I tell you NO one wants to go through days upon days of hearing their own inner voice telling them how much better it would be if they just died. No one wants to feel so worthless.
The second one is “Saying things like “it’ll get better,” “you just need to get out of the house,” or “you’ll be fine” is meaningless. I know that when loved one’s tell me this that are truly just trying to help me and are genuinely concerned for me, but the fact is these things don’t help. In fact they do more damage because what we hear is “an idiot knows that just doing these things will help, are you so stupid you can’t see it to be true?”. We know that spending the day in the sunshine and fresh air will make us feel better, for a few hours at least but sometimes the depression is so severe that you literally can’t muster up the energy to get dressed more or less actually go out in public. Honestly if we go out without putting that mask of false bravado on people give us the “OMG did she just escape from a mental institution” look. It’s hard work to hide the pain. This article says that you should avoid offering advice and just let the person know that you are there for them. I will go one further… not only let them know that you are there but do everything you can to make sure they know they are not a burden to them. That you understand they are fighting a disease, not just whining and complaining. If they trust you enough to tell you how sad they are or stressed or anxious take that as a compliment. It means they are trusting you with their very souls
The third thing is “Sometimes they have to push you away before they can bring you closer”. This one says it best. it’s exactly what I was saying on the previous one. Here is what the article says “People who suffer from depression often get frustrated with feeling like they’re a burden on other people. This causes them to isolate themselves and push away people they need the most, mentally exhausting themselves from worrying about if they’re weighing their loved ones down with their sadness. If they become distant, just remember to let them know you’re still there, but don’t try to force them to hang out or talk about what’s going on if they don’t want to.” When we get to a point that we have pushed everyone away we are so mentally exhausted that suicide soon looks like the only way out of it all.
The fourth thing is “You’re allowed to get frustrated”. Dealing with someone who suffers can be exhausting for anyone near them. We know this (which is why we tend to push people away).. it’s perfectly okay for you to take care of yourself. If you are in fear that your loved one is to a point that you are driving yourself to an early grave worrying they are going to commit suicide, all you can do is tell them to get help and start helping themselves or you will have to walk away. I have had someone tell me this in the past and it shook me into reality. If we are not willing to help ourselves, no one else can.
The fifth thing is “It’s important to discuss and create boundaries”. This one is tricky but can be done. Let your loved one know “hey listen.. I know you are suffering, but I’m not going to sit at home every day with you wallowing in self pity.. I have a life too. I’d like you to be a part of it but If you can’t I won’t force you. But you have to understand you can’t force me to be where you are either”… yeah it sounds harsh but the fact is you only have one life.. don’t live it to a point where you look back and think of all the time you wasted on someone who wasn’t willing to try.
The sixth thing is “They can become easily overwhelmed”. This is so very true. I remember one time during my very long and drawn out and painful 2 year divorce I hit an all time low. I just wanted to sleep. I still managed to work 4 jobs but as soon as I got home I just wanted to sleep. One night I was on the phone/computer with my now husband and he was all cheery and upbeat and wanted to talk and share about his day went and how my day went and I was so exhausted I couldn’t do it. I remember crying to him begging him to just let me go to sleep. I didn’t want to talk on the phone with him, I wanted to put the kids to bed early and just sleep. He finally saw how exhausted I was and let me go and I was almost instantly asleep. I slept in until very late the next morning. My sister in law was supposed to be coming over to take me shopping and I was talking on the phone to my now husband and literally fell asleep while talking to him and waiting on her. She finally got there and I was like a Zombie through the mall. She brought me home early because she could tell I wasn’t going to make it long and as soon as I got home I was asleep again. I slept most of the day and all that night and most of the next day. It didn’t matter how much sleep I was getting I was still so very exhausted. I could have slept for a month. I’m currently fighting it again, and all I want to do is sleep except this time I can’t seem to sleep at all.
The Seventh thing is “It’s not about you”. It really and truly is not about you. It’s how their brain is processing their own thoughts.. it has nothing to do with you. You can’t blame yourself for it.
The Eight thing was “Avoid creating ultimatums, making demands or using a “tough-love” approach”. If you’ve done all you can do and you’ve exhausted all means in you to help and you find that you are losing yourself.. just walk away. You are not responsible for someone else’s mental disorder. Telling someone who suffers “change or I’m leaving” is only going to cause so many more issue’s that it is truly better if you just walk away.
The Ninth thing “They don’t always want to do this alone”. Yes, we tend to push people away. We do this so that you don’t have to “deal” with us and our problems. We don’t want to be a burden and we believe that we can do it all on our own. The truth is we have been dealing with it on our own for our entire lives so we get to a point where we know we don’t need anyone else but that’s not true. Sometimes the best thing you can do is go and get your friend/loved one and take them out. Nothing major, no big sporting event or loud gathering. Just take a drive, go to the beach for the day and stroll the boardwalk. Find a farmers market or maybe a movie (nothing depressing). Just by letting them vent a lil then helping them take their mind off of their problems for a few hours can make the most amazing difference.
The Tenth thing is “Try not to compare your experiences with theirs”.. this goes for anyone, not just someone with depression. Everyone deals with sadness and depression/grief anger whatever differently. We all deal in our own ways and trying to show someone who is suffering how easily you got over something will only make them feel worse. You can tell them your story, but don’t say things like ‘If I can do it you can to”. That just makes us feel so much worse.
The Eleventh thing is “It’s okay to ask your friend where they are in their feelings”. This is not only okay but it’s crucial. Sometimes people just assume that someone who is suffering is just being their normal selves and don’t give it a second thought, then they do the ultimate thing and it leaves their loved one’s wondering why they didn’t do anything to help. It’s okay to sometimes ask them “hey… should I be worried about you?”. At the lowest point in my life I picked up a bottle of pills and popped the top and sat there thinking about how easy it would be. I had just lived through something seriously violent and just wanted the pain to stop. My friend who happened to be there helping me heal took the bottle out of my hand and asked me.. “Tell me every feeling.. every thought in your head right now”…He didn’t condemn me for my feelings.. he didn’t say anything to make me feel worse. What he did was walk me thought the consequences of what my actions would have been in a moment of despair. I’m still here today because he did that.
The Twelfth thing ” Schedule time to spend together”. This is a major help. We may try to get out of it, we may say we are sick or whatever but don’t let us out of it. My husband schedule a hike for us this past week, and even with as grouchy as I have been it did me a world of good to get out and do it. We ended up hiking 6 miles that day, and at one point I pretty much decided they would find our corpses on the trail because we were never going to find our way out of the woods, but we did and even though my legs/hips were sore I felt better.
The Thirteenth thing is “Just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean that they’re weak”.. It usually means quite the opposite. Usually those who suffer the most with depression are the one’s who have walked through the fires of hell and managed to come out the other side. We are usually the one’s who have sacrificed our own souls for others (and usually had it thrown back in our faces). We are the one’s who try to keep everyone else happy, never working on our own happiness. Then we get to a point where we see others who are “happy” and it’s a level we just can’t seem to reach so we start feeling inadequate and that happiness is something we cannot achieve. Society has told us what happiness is, and since we can’t fulfill that picture perfectness then obviously we aren’t deserving of it. Which is the furthest thing from the truth. We need to learn that our happiness is something totally different then someone else, and accept that when we are happy that is the PERFECT level of happiness.
It’s not easy living with and loving someone with depression. You can tell them they need medicine’s but the truth is the man made pills are just band-aides that usually cause more problems. The side effects generally outweigh the con’s of the pill to begin with and traps them in a vicious cycle of needing a new pill to counter act the other pills side effect. All you can do is your best in trying to help, and like I said if they choose to not help themselves then there is nothing else you can do. It’s not your burden to carry, it is ours, it is mine. Just love us (me) for who I am and let me know that you are there. Leave the rest up to me.