Depression is horrible!
Let’s talk about how you can support someone struggling with depression. But first, can we all just agree that depression sucks? I’ve actually struggled with depression for most of my life. Some days are actually worse than others but when it hits hard, every day feels the exact same.
I’ve dealt with depression since I was a teen and even attempted suicide twice. So I know depression is at its worst when I find myself contemplating the question “if I were to take my life, how would I do it?” or “I wonder what’s the least painful way to go?”.
It’s not always that bad though and thankfully it hasn’t been that bad in years! Over the years I’ve learned to effectively manage my depression. So it hardly ever really strikes. Unfortunately, the last couple of months were a bit of a downer because it just came back out of nowhere.
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- How to manage depression without medication
I was just sad. Couldn’t quite pinpoint why. I was just really sad. A lot. Random crying spells. Feeling unaccomplished and just basically burnt out. I am a mom and I am engaged to be married so I know that I cannot let my depression affect my ability to be there and show up for my family. So I did everything I could to communicate my state of being to my fiance.
Thankfully, he is very understanding when it comes to that and he was able to reach out to me to help me manage it. But there were some days when he would just ask the most ridiculous questions.
All good intentions, of course. I know that, but when you’re dealing with a soul-sucking monster trying to convince you that your life is pointless and you’ve never been happy a day in your life and you suck at basically everything, the last thing you want to do is answer obvious questions like “are you okay?”
That prompted me to write down these 11 Things People Struggling With Depression Want You To Know with the hope that it will help someone to understand how to support someone struggling with depression.
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1. Stop asking if we are okay.
One of the easiest ways you can support someone struggling with depression, is to stop constantly asking “are you okay?”.
Do you see this frown on my face, Bob? We are not okay.
We are constantly in a space that feels like there is no hope or happiness in our life. There is constant sadness and it hurts. It hurts so much.
Every time you ask us if we are okay, you send us further down into the pit of darkness. We are going to say “yes” when you ask because we don’t want to be a burden to anyone.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t show concern. Just stop asking the same generic, monotonous question over and over. I guarantee you, we are not okay. Now stop asking.
2. Stop telling us that we need to get help.
One good way to support someone struggling with depression is to suggest that they seek help. The problem is when it begins to feel like we’re being pressured into getting help.
Fun fact: pressure doesn’t help or make the situation any better. it makes it worse!
Okay look, of course, we know that we need to get help when we are dealing with this soul-sucking monster. We’re not stupid.
We just don’t know how to ask without feeling like we are burdening others with our problems. The last thing someone dealing with depression wants is to make someone else have to deal with this sh*t that we have been dealing with.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to help and try to support someone struggling with depression. You should because we appreciate it. Just stop telling us to get help every 10 minutes. Just help for the love of God or shut the f*ck up about it.
3. We don’t always want to kill ourselves.
Every time you go online and research depression you see it being classified as prolonged sadness that leads to feelings of suicide. While that is certainly true for many people dealing with depression, it is not always the case.
Not all of us are plotting our own demise. For some of us, the thoughts creep in sometimes but we have so many people that we know our death would deeply cut that we couldn’t even bring ourselves to suicide even if we wanted to.
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4. We are not babies so quit treating us like we are.
Either you treat us the way you normally would or leave us alone. It is hella irritating to be dealing with depression and have to deal with people around you walking on eggshells too. It’s worse when we feel like it’s our fault.
Treating us like babies is not how you support someone struggling with depression. So please stop!
5. We are not intentionally trying to be mean.
One of the many symptoms of depression is intense irritability and anger. Everything pisses us off. We are trying to preserve what little energy we have to fight this soul-sucking monster that constantly has its claws sunk into our necks.
We don’t have extra energy to be going over things with you multiple times. Especially when it is something simple.
6. Some of us are dealing with what is known as high-functioning depression.
That means that we throw ourselves into work or school and we go above and beyond. But we do so because it’s the only way we know how to deal with this thing that cripples us.
Losing ourselves in our work distracts from the depression and it may even seem like we’re perfectly fine. But I assure you we are not.
Read more about high-functioning depression:
- What Is High-Functioning Depression—and Could You Have It?
- What Are the Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression?
- 8 Things People With High-Functioning Depression Want You to Know
7. Depression is hard.
You have no idea just how hard it is to deal with depression. It drains your energy. It takes away all your joy and all the light in your world.
It’s hard because we know that how we are affecting those closest to us and it hurts us to know that we are hurting people we care about. This sends us further into darkness which continues the cycle.
Even talking to people is hard because we’re constantly fighting back tears or managing our emotions so we don’t explode.
8. The next time someone tells us to “think positively” or “stop being so negative” I swear we are going to explode!
We are not trying to be negative. Depression makes everything negative.
We are not trying to think negatively. Depression makes the world a dark place.
If we could just use positive thoughts and “think depression away” don’t you think we would be doing that?
The next time you catch the flu, why don’t you try “thinking it away”? EXACTLY! That’s not how it works.
9. Try asking how we “feel” instead of asking if we’re okay.
Look, if you really do care and you really wanna know what’s going on in our heads. If you really want to be of any help at all, try asking us about how we are feeling.
This is one really good way to support someone struggling with depression because there’s a difference between “are you okay?” and “how are you feeling today?”
We might not be able to tell you exactly what we’re feeling because sometimes we can’t even make sense of the madness happening inside us. But you asking about our feelings makes such a huge difference.
Just don’t overdo it and please for the love of God don’t push it to the point where we end up snapping at you.
10. Depression makes us want to be alone.
It makes us crave solitude. Not because we really want to be alone per se but because when we’re alone is the only time our state of being isn’t affecting anyone else. At least not directly.
Remember we hate feeling like we’re being burdens to others. So please, if you care about and want to support someone struggling with depression, please give us time to be alone but don’t leave us alone. If that makes sense.
11. Depression is a real thing.
if you want to support someone struggling with depression, you must recognize that depression is a real illness.
It is an illness just like any physical illness. We are not just seeking attention. We are genuinely going through a sh*tstorm. If you’re not gonna help the situation, please just don’t add to the sh*tsorm and make it worse.
If you truly want to support someone struggling with depression, you must read and learn more about depression.
As for me, I have, thankfully, since managed to come out of that state and I am feeling so much better. The world is bright. The sun is shining. Birds are singing and I feel warm and fuzzy inside again.
If you are struggling with depression, I know this is the last thing you want to hear but please reach out to a person you trust or your local mental health authorities for help.