5 Things Not To Say To Someone With Depression
As someone who’s suffered from depression, I know the hopelessness, the oppressive darkness, the inability to get out of your own head. But I also understand how difficult it is for those around depressives to deal with the disease when it’s looking at you through the eyes of someone you love. It’s incredibly difficult to know what to say when a depressive seems intent on wedding themselves to their misery. From the outside, depression can look like a choice; it can look like sadness. Unlike sadness, depression is chemical imbalance that can’t be shaken off but the frustration the disease elicits in both the depressive and those around the depressive is tangible. I’ve tried to come up with some things to try and avoid and alternative to make reaching that person a little bit easier.
“Everything Is Going To Be OK…”
Here’s the thing…it doesn’t feel like that when you’re in the darkest throes of depression and, here’s the reality, sometimes it’s not going to be OK. Depression is a malignant disease; underestimate it at your peril. Those suffering can not believe that everything is going to be OK and forcing them to confront their inability to believe that can feel like the latest thing they’ve failed at.
Instead: What can I do?
It may be a hug. It may be just sitting with them. It may be calling a friend. It may be any number of things and it may be nothing. Gently reminding them that they are not alone is key.
It’s probably been a long time since they felt positive about anything and this just serves to remind people suffering with depression of that fact. Depression isn’t anything to do with choosing to focus on the negative or the sad. Depression is a disease, the symptoms of which are helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness. It’s not an emotional choice, but a physical affliction.
Instead: I’m here…
Being content with sharing a space with them could be just what they need. There may not be conversation but there will be comfort.
“Don’t think like that…”
Again, anything that implies there is a choice to be made is only going to make the person suffering from depression feel more helpless. Anything that implies it’s simply a choice of making a different decision is going to fall on deaf ears.
Instead: Tell me how it feels…
They may not be able to do this in full, but they’ll appreciate the respect your giving their disease.
“Why are you depressed?”
That’s like asking a cancer patient why they’ve got cancer. It’s an impossible question to answer because depression isn’t about bad things that happen. Sure, bad things can trigger depression but other people suffer bad things without falling into depression and some people suffering depression suffer no bad things. There’s not rhyme or reason to depression. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate.
Instead: Can you describe what you’re thinking?
Often people suffering are waiting to be asked this question. Our thought processes are so twisted when we’re suffering that we don’t even realise it until we’re asked to describe it.
“Look how lucky you are! Be grateful…”
There’s no rationale when it comes to depression. There’s no logic. There’s no reason. Just because you have a loving family, a comfortable life and a great deal to be grateful for doesn’t mean you can’t be depressed.
Instead: You have me if you need me…
Remind them of truths.