Unless you live with it, you couldn’t possibly understand. I’m talking about people who suffer from depression, you know.
This is my pitiful attempt at introducing depression. Depression is paralyzing. It can transform a perfectly sunny day into a dark pit of despair. For those who suffer, it can seem almost impossible to escape this pit, and we need all the support we can get. I fight this battle as well.
People fail to look outside their own perceptions. Unfortunately, what works for some people in certain situations, doesn’t always work for others. Those who do not suffer from depression, just cannot understand how it feels.
When you know someone is suffering from depression and you want to help, you sometimes blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. I bet you’re wondering if you’re guilty of saying insensitive things to people who suffer from depression, aren’t you?
Let me just go ahead and tell you what not to say. I’m warning you, I am going to be blunt and to the point, and tell you how I feel about some choice phrases.
Please, dear God, never say these things to people who suffer from depression. You’re better off being silent.
1. “Just stop talking about it.”
I’m sharing a secret with you. I was told, not too long ago, that I should stop talking about my illness and it would go away. What makes it so hard is that the one who told me this is my spiritual leader. First off, I’m not trying to come down on spiritual leaders but I’ve tried talking the darkness into light and it worked momentarily, but it did not stay away.
The point is, depression is a real thing, whether I wish to talk about it or not, no one else should have the audacity to tell me to ignore the problem and it will go away. How mature is that, anyway? Don’t do this, plain and simple.
2. “You look better when you smile.”
Yeah, we all look like Mary Poppins when we have a huge grin plastered across our faces. I guess the smile will dig down deep and wash away the horrors of bleakness-not. I may look better when smiling, but it’s going to take some entertaining to coax that smile.
Instead of pining for a smile, why don’t you fall in love with the truth of me, scars and all? Maybe you could smile, it’s better than criticism.
3. “Look at all the things you have to be happy about. Why are you sad?”
I could have every material object my heart desired and still be unhappy, or depressed rather. As a matter of fact, I have a husband, children and a home. I have plenty of food to eat and many books to read. I have pets, both cats and dogs and the location where I live is peaceful with almost perfect weather.
There you have it. I have everything I need, but guess what, sometimes I still want to end it all, and sometimes I have no idea why. Depression is not sadness. It’s something much worse than that.
4. “I miss the old you.”
I mean, come on, this one is ridiculous. If you miss the old me, and you love me and know me for who I really am, then you already know about my illness. That’s one way to look at it.
Another idea is this: If you love the old me (happy me), then instead of reminding me that I have failed you, why not sit and watch television with me, or grab a book and read to me. I may not want to do these things, but you can spend your breath asking me to do something instead of telling me that I’m not the best company.
5. “You need to seek help.”
Chances are, I have already sought help on many occasions. I may be currently seeking help. This doesn’t mean that I should be cured of my illness. In fact, illnesses, such as bipolar depression, cannot be cured, it can only be maintained. So, been there, done that. Any more suggestions?
6. “Happiness is a choice.”
You know, I’m not even going to harp on this one. If I could be happy, I would be happy. What do you think I am, a glutton for punishment?
7. “Maybe you should take meds.” Or “Are you taking your meds?”
Not everyone who suffers from depression takes their meds, but I do. I still have ‘wanna-be’ psychiatrist loved ones telling me that I should take my meds. Sometimes when it’s bad, and I mean excruciating, my loved ones ask if I’m off my meds. Well, the truth is, the medicines can only do so much and the depression leaks right through.
I wish I could tell you that I was off my meds or whatever, but sometimes, they just aren’t strong enough for some levels of darkness.
8. “I get sad sometimes too – I know how you feel.”
Being sad and having depression are two different things. Sadness goes away, usually in a short period of time. Suddenly something comes along and brings a smile back to your face. With depression, sometimes even a laughing baby, a cuddly puppy or a chocolate cake cannot make me smile. It’s not the same, never will be, so stop comparing the two.
9. “Get over it! You’ve been sad long enough.”
Once, in my twenties, I watched my dog get killed by a car. I cried for a long time until my husband told me that I had cried enough. At the time, I was heartbroken, not only for my puppy but for the fact that my husband thought he knew the limits for grieving.
I don’t care who you are, or how much you think you know, never tell someone how long they are supposed to grieve. I have encountered this in many areas of my life and each time it happens, I cringe.
10. “You’re being selfish.”
I know there are starving children around the world and homeless people with nowhere to sleep tonight, but guess what, I still hurt. Nothing’s changed. I wish you wouldn’t think that I am selfish because I hurt so badly that I cannot function – get out of bed, eat a meal, or comb my hair.
I’ve tried to function, but my arms and legs won’t work and I cannot talk without crying. I don’t want your attention and I will help someone tomorrow. Stop attacking me.
11. “You must first love yourself before you can be loved.”
This statement limits the remote possibility that someone with depression can be loved. Seriously, loving someone is unconditional, and true love sees beyond the putrid veil. You will be loved, I will be loved and it has nothing to do with the fact that I hate myself for today.
12. “But you’re always so happy.”
I guess you’ve seen me on my best days, and this is the first time you’ve seen my monster. Well, welcome to the other side of me, the dark side of me. News Flash – I’m not always so happy. It’s just by chance that you’ve dodged the demon, for the most part. I have depression, this is just as much a part of me as my smiles.
13. “You’re not going to kill yourself, are you?”
Well, I’m not planning my suicide, not today, but it’s not wise for you to ask me that. You should never bring up death when I am battling death itself. It just makes perfect sense. But honestly, depression doesn’t automatically mean I want to kill myself, so stop asking that asinine question.
14. “You need to get out more often.”
I want you to know that for the most part, I don’t like being around people. I do get out but at my own pace. I will never give in, feel better, or come out of my shell for you.
People scare me and I will endure them when I feel comfortable. I don’t want anything making the depression worse. You don’t always know what’s best for me.
I won’t take up any more of your time since I explained so many pet peeves. I will leave you with this: Please, whatever you do or however you feel, be considerate of those who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses.
Your words can both enlighten and destroy, depending on your motives. If depression irritates you, then you should consider taking a look at yourself instead.
Keep an open mind and an open heart for people who suffer from depression. It’s the best for all of us.
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This Post Has 20 Comments
You have an incredible ability to put your quick wit into words. Thanks, you made me smile even on a dark day.
You are welcome, and I hope you are doing well.
All very valid except 13 – it is important when someone is depressed as opposed to down that suicide is discussed. Many people contemplate or even plan suicide and it MUST be addressed – not every time you meet the person but it needs discussing and contradicts #1.
Other than that spot on imho.
Well, if you want a child to walk around the pool, and not to run, here are two ways you could proceed. Tell the child “Don’t run near the pool,” or tell the child “Only walk near the pool.” The problem with the first is simple: you’ve suggested to the child’s subconscious that they “run near the pool.” You didn’t mean that and the child clearly understood you. You’ve still created the problem by creating the suggestion with the words “run near the pool.” You made the idea in the first place.
I wouldn’t communicate to a person that I expect them to take their life. I wouldn’t communicate to a person that their friends expect them to take their own life. However, I would do that and more if I saw something that made me feel that this person was going to commit suicide. At that point I say full steam ahead.
I can imagine only in rare cases would talk of suicide help — like at the point a person is on their way to do it, or had decided to. But in all cases, by talking about it, I see the suggestion that they do it being made. It’s made unintentionally, but that doesn’t help the carpenter who’s cut a board too short, either.
Look — there’s a certain point where a person’s life is their own, period. Frankly, counseling someone on the issue is potentially overstepping your boundaries. It’s also potentially disastrous. By suggesting to the person the world expects them to kill themselves (but check out this great bucket list of reasons to live???), I see far more likelihood of causing harm than helping. I would reason caution in assuming too much responsibility for another person. Turning away from a cry for help is one thing, but insisting on talking about suicide is likely a horrible mistake. Far more chance of doing harm than good. Not only that, the harm of the suggestion is done via the incredibly powerful subconscious mind, which is susceptible to such influence. The potential good accomplished by talking about it can only be realized through the reasoning faculties, whose strength pales in comparison to that of the subconscious. Reason won’t defeat feeling, so it’s best not to generate the feeling with good-meaning but ultimately harmful words to begin with. That’s my take.
Assuming you’re the best one to talk about it, or to judge when the time is right? Just don’t say it. You have been asked politely enough!
Thanks for reading, Stephen. I am sorry if my points are a bit mix-matched. I suffer from depression myself and a few other mental illnesses and I have different feelings about different things from day to day. It’s hard for me to put my finger on a small list of things that do or do not help me. I always appreciate any comments or critique about the posts, as I learn something new each day.
This are good things to know. I wish my 16 year old self read this. I didn’t have suicidal tendencies but it was a dark time in my teenage years. the depression.
Yes, that age was pretty dark for me too. I am still here and I try to be because there are people who need me.
It is important for you to know that not all people who believe that you are “celebrating” your condition are haters.
I grew up in a traditional family of five, three diagnosed with clinical depression, 2 highly medicated for a bi-polar condition. The struggle to not be drawn into the tar-pit of self-pity and narcissism continues to this day. Talk about a fifty year downer…
Do not judge those who do not agree with you as un-wise or “haters.” Depression, and staying in the condition whether medicated or not is a choice, especially as an adult. There are services and support groups. Forgive me if like others who agree with me, it is a better choice to walk away, keep your mouth shut, pity and participate not, and not feed the dragon.
Yes, have compassion. However, always choose to spend time with those whose energy matches yours, or even better yet…with those that you want to be like….Happy, Healthy, Positive, Hopeful. Choose to raise your frequency, or at least try.
Thank you all for your comments. I think that Stephen makes a valid point about suicide. Suicide is serious, but you have to be able to discern some things for yourself when dealing with those suffering from mental illness.And Oshadi, I understand where you are coming from. My spiritual leaders are optimistic and hopeful, but they tend to push this upon me at times. The goal is to feel better and be drawn toward the light, I am aware of this. As for dealing with entire families with mental illness, I have done that. My mother was hospitalized for anxiety and depression, while my father lived with bipolar disorder. As a child, I had no idea that they were sick. I lived as if the way there were was normal. I was a victim of abuse which triggered my genetic predisposition for mental illness. It was a whirlwind of emotions at home, now that I can see it from an adult perspective. My brother deals with issues as well.
It’s not that we want to feel this way. It’s just that we have such a devil of a time keeping hold of the light. Making a decision to change is not as easy as you think, especially if everyone around you, as you were growing to adulthood, was inflicted with ‘madness’. I was pulled down by them, but friends of the family, who tried to infect their happiness by telling me to ‘just make the decision to be happy’ only made me feel like a failure. It’s a tricky thing, and you have to be fully committed to victims of mental illness to be able to help them. I’m sorry, it’s not so cut and dry and black and white as you would like it to be. I am sorry for your suffering with your family. My heart goes out to you.
Simple and blunt advice. Pot smoking/eating/vaporising whatever alleviates the depression and has some other positive benefits as well. If you’ve not tried it, I suggest you do. What have yo8u got to lose? I forget I have the black dog on my heels for years at a time with only those occassions I run dry serving as a reminder. It also virtually guarantees you won’t see alzheimers or senility set in. Pot does take away the highs, regular use means you’ll neither feel the lows of depression or the ecstatic highs of Bipolar disorder (two of my three grown kids are bipolar) but for myself, being free of the unaccountable yet crippling depression which is the alternative is sufficient.
Heeey, that’s the stuff people are always saying to me!
Plus at least 10 more..
Please tell us, what should we say? How can we help our friends and loved ones who suffer from depression?
Never deny their feelings, so be empathetic towards them. If you don’t have empathy, learn that skill.
Always tell them, “I accept you for who you are. You are precious and valuable no matter what conditions you are in.”
“You’ve already done a good job surviving through these many many years. You’re already doing a great job battling this.”
“It’s okay to feel depressed and I am willing to be with you to walk with you. I am here to support you wholeheartedly.”
The root of any type of depression is the early childhood stage of unforgiveness about someone who has hurt you in your past. For instance, your mother hurts you while you are still in her womb by saying she thinks it’s not an appropriate time to have you because she’s suffering financially. However, as a baby, you feel rejected by your mother and hence you feel angry and hatred towards your mother. This early unforgiveness builds up over time (which also results into anger, bitterness, hatred while you are still a baby in your mother’s womb) and being suppressed into your subconsciousness as you grow up and eventually develop into depression. Emotional healing of your past, especially the time when you are still a baby in your mother’s wounds, by forgiving the people who have hurt you and by releasing those negative emotions and by later on building up positive self-image about yourself and by learning the truth of unconditional love are some of the major key to ultimate healing in depression.
I know it’s NOT fair for people who have depression because I and my mom had 16 years of very severe depression and I understand all about this depression. I remembered church people kicked my mom out when she was screaming and crying and people were very scared of her. All of my friends abandoned me and saw me as an alien. I remembered putting up a smiling mask just so I could fit in. Then later on, I learned not to tell anyone I had depression anymore because all I am hearing from people are ignorant, low EQ statements that do no good for my depression but worse. I remembered frequently crying for 4 to 6 hours after a person’s negative statement about my depression. My dad’s friend said to my dad, “I think you are having a pet and not having a daughter because you’re feeding her for so many years and she can’t even go out to work.”
I have tried so many different therapies from clinical psychologists, and counsellors and my depression actually got worse. Why? No one can tell me why. So I decided to study clinical psychology myself in order to help myself out and realized that depression has no cure ever. This means all mental health professionals know the truth: there’s no cure in depression ever and medicines cannot help cure or get rid of depression. But I don’t give up. I believe I will create my own healing path for myself then. I have learned all the skills to finding my causes of all of my negative emotions and now I need to find a way out of this depression. I have finally found an ultimate way to depression healing but this means I have to work really hard to pay the price to get healed.
To make my long story short, I did heal from depression now. Friends are really really really useless when a person is suffering from depression because they never understand you and they will just say all the wrong things to push you down and make your depression worse.
It is better to talk about your feelings of depression to a therapist or a counselor who has empathy and HIGH EQ. There are sooo many psychologists and counsellors who have low EQ and will say things to make your depression worse.
I have learnt to be my own best friend and I have learnt to be self-sufficient. I am now an expert in managing my own emotions and thinking.
It is best for me to heal my own emotions (learn the real unconditional love healing techniques myself), and then build up myself in unconditional love.
I learn to be my own psychologist by studying clinical psychology and realized that in clinical psychology there’s no cure in depression, which means you can only be 70% healed AND live with depression for the rest of your life. I refused to accept this because science is constantly evolving. So I decided to continue to search the ultimate healing for myself.
So during these 16 years, I have been trying so many methods to heal myself and my mom. Lots of people tell me don’t do it but I know those people are ignorant because they DON’T even have depression and they have no idea how eager I want to be healed completely.
There were lots of times I used to want to kill myself and I have managed to self-control that impulse. I have experienced nurses and psychiatrists treating me like a garbage in the past while I was having depression and very severe suicidal thoughts (seriously, I was being treated worse than a dog because they will look down on you and threaten you to take meds or otherwise they will bind you).
My depression mom used to use a knife trying to kill me and my dad in the past and I had counselled her out of this many times. My dad would always hide those knives whenever we were sleeping so just in case she wanted to kill us she couldn’t find any knives to do it while we were sleeping.
I remembered calming my depression mom at the airport and on the flight based on my knowledge in psychology and in my life experience, while being very very stressed out and anxious about my mom being locked up in a psychiatric hospital because I know how those horrible mental health professionals would treat her, and she was already on the edge of psychotic disorder so I knew she could not take up any more traumatic event from any ignorant strangers at the airport.
There are even more worse hardships in my life but through it all, I am healed and I am really happy and positive everyday. Yes, I am still learning to not be offended by low EQ negative people but I can get rid of any negative emotions in my life in 5 minutes frequently, unless it’s a subconscious hurt that I haven’t dealt with then it will take some self-healing sessions to self-heal myself.
The reason I am writing my life story here is to give hope to people who also have depression in this world.
To be honest with you, I want to study further to become an Australian licensed counsellor to really heal depression people with this unique healing combined therapy that I have found out on my own but I don’t have this courage to do so. Why? Working as a counsellor or a psychologist, I cannot give advice to clients because that’s part of the job policy regulation. So maybe becoming a certified life coach to help support the depression people would be a better choice for me because I have helped my own depression and my mom’s depression in unconditional love throughout these 16 years with a combination of healing techniques which I have discovered in my life experience. (However, my aunt and my dad strongly suggested me not to become a counsellor or a life coach because they are very anxious that I might become depressed again being always triggered back to my past and being always dealing with depression people so they are anxious I might be negative affected and become depressed again….so maybe just working as a retail sale might be the best option for me now. Honestly, I don’t know but I don’t mind working as a retail sale or a telemarketer in order to sustain my emotional well-being. There are 51% of psychologists and counselors who are clinically depressed nowadays so the risk of having depression is high working in this field.) My mom is now healed and she has friends and she is able to live a normal happy positive peaceful life again. Seeing my mom living such a carefree life I feel I am successful already. I have achieved my mission of preventing my mom from committing suicide and helping her to live a happy positive peaceful life now. My dad has very severe phobias and I have been teaching him how to self-heal his own phobias so that even though I am not with him, he can self-heal himself anywhere anytime. I am grateful that my parents and I are all healed now. I am truly grateful.
If it is a result of a traumatic event. Seek talk therapy and various meditative tools.
If this is due to low and deficiency in minerals and feelgoid hormone seek a naturopath or a Chinese medicine doctor. The physical requires certain levels. I believe any depression is a spiritual depression being closer to or connecting to an expansive path to something greater within yourself lifts the darkness.
These are the things we should not say… What are the things that we SHOULD say ? Thanks
Maybe just be there…
Most of the time, that’s enough…
It is weak. Stop pushing those ‘depressed’ people
Thank you Sherrie…
I’ve been told so many of these things, so many times…
Sometimes I wish somebody somewhere understood, you know…
I’ve never met you, but reading your post, for the first time in ages, makes me feel like someone understands, like at least I’m not alone…
And I can’t tell you just how much that means to me…
Thank you so so much…
Hello I lived with depression for 30 years of my life and it was not till the last 4 years that I have become happy and I did that by taking responsibility for my depression and learning about the mind and meditation number 6 is just wrong you have to take responsibility for your happiness you are the only person who can make your self happy do not ignore your depression and depression is just a symptom you have to find out why you are depressed do not treat the symptoms meds do not work the best thing you can do is exercise and eat healthy and meditation lastly study phycology that is what worked for me