Depression is not an easy thing to understand. You can’t hear it or feel it or see it on another person, so when you tell somebody you suffer from it you shouldn’t expect too much. And to those who know somebody who suffers, it isn’t easy to watch somebody become a shadow of who they once were and it’s hard to find the right things to say. But here are the things you definitely should NOT say.
1. Someone has it worse than you
Would you tell somebody who has just had a heart attack and is intensive care to be grateful because somebody has it worse? Or somebody with a broken back who is in a wheelchair? So why is depression any different? Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there and it isn’t hurting and destroying lives. Depression ears you away from the inside, takes everything away from you and leaves you a shell of your former self that may never be filled again. Do you know how much that hurts? And to be told that somebody has it worse so you’re not allowed to be ill with depression is inexcusable and hurtful.
2. Cheer up
Thanks mate why didn’t i think of that? Like seriously this is the most infuriating one, doesn’t even need an explanation.
3. Think positively
Positive thoughts work for some people. Even me, I have tried to change my thoughts into positive and it really does help (for anybody who wants to try and change their thought process, read the book The Secret. It’s incredible.) but for depression sufferers, we are naturally negative thinkers and sometimes it just isn’t possible. Think of it as being colourblind and seeing everything in black and white and being at the northern lights. Everybody around you is in awe at the beautiful colours but all you can see is grey. Can you imagine how awful that is?
4. Pull yourself together
Oh I get this all the time especially since I’ve become a mother. Sometimes it’s not just possible when you’re having a really bad day to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, as with any illness out there. If it was that easy, we would. Who wants to be depressed though really?
5. There are people with real illnesses
Depression is a real illness. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Here is what a normal brain looks like as opposed to a depressives brain.
Motivation is one of the hardest things to conjure up if you’re suffering depression. Careers and friendships suffer because sometimes, let’s face it all you want to do is sit in your pants and you feel even more crap because you can’t get the energy to do anything. We know we need to do something, don’t remind us.
7. You’ll be okay
Shit thanks that makes it all better!
8. You’re not depressed you just want attention
Oh I get this a lot. And my reaction is always ‘are you fucking kidding me?’ Depression is an illness and as for attention? Of course we want attention, we want to feel loved and reassured.
9. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Of course I feel sorry for myself. I constantly have a dark cloud over my head and a weight over my chest. I feel sad about anything and I’m scared to get into certain situations because I’m scared of being hurt and even more depressed than I already am. People do not understand how it feels.
10. There’s always something wrong with you
As a depression sufferer I find myself feeling like shit a lot physically and mentally. If I try and speak up I usually get ‘You’re always sad’ or ‘You’re always ill.’ This prevents a depression sufferer from speaking up as they think nobody cares until you bottle things up and then ‘BAM’ one day you’re either screaming at your mother over a piece of toast… Or sobbing uncontrollably about a piece of toast..
So you have a loved one suffering from depression. What can you do, or say, to make it better?
Truth is that there might not be anything you can say. One day you might say something that works, and the other day you may be shouted and screamed at for saying the same thing. Depressives are unpredictable- we can be weepy, angry and sometimes you are best staying miles away! The best thing to do for somebody who suffers from depression is to learn what works for their angry mood, their horrible down days and if a bipolar, their high moods. Let them know that you are there when they want to talk, that you might not have the right words but you’ll listen.
If they are sad, sit next to them and hold them. Supply them with junk food, run them a hot bath. Do not try and force them to go out somewhere. Ask, but not force. Instead, supply them with their favourite comforts. Reassure them, let them know you are there, tell them they are beautiful. For angry noods just do the same but with less talking.
Angry moods you may never be able to do anything right. But we love you and we don’t mean it. We want space but we will always come back with our tail between our legs. Leave us a cute note if we argue or don’t feel like talking or our favourite food on the counter. Tell us you are here when we are ready and we will repay you with so much love.
Depression is a complex thing to understand and it’s hard to watch someone you love fade away when you don’t really understand but it’s important to try. Empathy is key and do not use any of these phrases unless you’re a complete bellend.