I have depression. It sucks. One of the things that sucks the most about having depression is not being able to tell my friends what I’m feeling or what kind of help I need, if I feel like admitting I need help to begin with. So, let me just say that there are so many things about having depression that I wish all of our friends could know. Sometimes feeling helpless about being there for a depressed friend can be worse than being the one with depression. It tends to feel like a lose-lose situation.
Managing a mental illness can be exhausting. Undoubtedly, friends are life’s way of making sure you don’t have to go through every experience all on your own. Life is better with company. However, when it comes to helping you through an intensely private time, it can be a bit trying. It also doesn’t help that part of having depression means that you feel like you can’t ask for help at all. There’s a deep sense of shame to it, and contending with that in itself can feel very isolating. It’s a really cyclical pattern of suck. So what should you do? These are nine things your friend with depression wishes you knew about them, their depression, and what you can do to help.
Our Depression Has Nothing To Do With YouYou aren't failing as a friend because you can't fix your friend's depression. No one can magically fix depression! You didn't do anything wrong and you aren't being a bad friend by not knowing how to help us. Thankfully, your job as a friend isn't to fix, it's to be supportive during trying times and not judging us for whatever's going on. Rest easy, our happiness is our own responsibility. While you may contribute a large part to our feeling good and general mental stability, our general welfare isn't entirely in your hands. Source: iStock
Asking For Or Accepting Help Is Really Hard SometimesPart of the struggle of having a depressed friend is feeling like you can't reach them - because depressed people often don't want to accept or ask for help at all. If we knew how to fix it, it'd be fixed. If a friend could swoop in and make us feel better, that'd be fantastic, but that's not how a pervasive medical condition works. Having depression frequently means feeling lonely and like you're a burden to your loved ones despite whatever people may tell you. Wanting help and being able to ask for it are two completely different things. Source: iStock
Ask Before Offering To HelpNot everybody needs the same kind of help. The same person doesn't even need the same kind of help all of the time. Furthermore, you don't know if your kind of help is the last thing this person wants right now. Ever hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged? So painful, so awkward. A lot of us with depression don't know how to ask for help to begin with, so it's sometimes a lot easier when you offer an open ended question first. Do they want space, or someting specific in the moment that could make them feel more at ease?Source: iStock
It Is A Daily, Ongoing StruggleEven when we appear to be fine, even when we aren't feeling even a hint of sadness, depression always plays a part in it. Dealing with depression is a daily struggle. Good days are always tinged with the feeling of "but, how long can this last?" and we frequently sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop. Having depression isn't a matter of having it or not depending on the day, it's a matter of metering how big the cloud is that's hovering over you. Source: iStock
Depression Is A Medical Condition, Not A PhaseYup, it's a real condition that your doctor can diagnose. Having depression is different than being depressed because you're going through a break up, got rejected from your top choice college, or lost a loved one. Most people are capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions, and deep sadness is definitely one of them. What makes depression different is that it can come with a ton of other negative feelings, symptoms, and other effects on your body. People might get on you by claiming that depression is trendy or some shit, which is totally false. It's a real thing that people of all ages have to deal with, it's not a random phase done for attention. Source: iStock
It's Okay That You Don't UnderstandReally. Just knowing someone is there for us is truly enough. We're not asking that you empathize with our every experience and feeling that comes with having depression. It's really okay that you can't quantify or fathom what having depression feels like - it's not a prerequesite for being able to be a good friend to someone who does. We wouldn't wish feeling this way on our worst enemy, so why would we want our nearest and dearest friends to feel that way? It sucks the most, so don't stress about talking to us about what we're feeling exactly when we're feeling it. Source: iStock
We Might Not Know What Triggers Our DepressionIt's just a normal, great day, then suddenly - BAM - depression city. How did we get here? How on earth do we get out? Who knows? Sometimes these waves happen we're out with friends, at a party, very randomly in the middle of class, you name it. The last place you'd like to encounter a random bout of feelings, they can surface right then. Not knowing your triggers makes it harder to have a sense of control over your depressive episodes and that sucks. We can't anticipate when something is going to upset us, so know that we didn't flip out on purpose, it's just something that happens.Source: iStock
Our Prescription Meds Can Really Mess With UsThat's medicine that effects your brain, you guys. When you're trying a new kind of anti-depressant, you can get surprised by a new side effect that can totally socially incapacitate you for a week or two. So no, we're not bailing because we're flaky or too tired, a wrong combination of meds can make you feel like the world is on fire. The side effects are real and can vary in intensity and how much it impedes your social life.Source: iStock
'Being There' For Someone Doesn't Always Mean Being Physically PresentNot everybody needs a hug and a reassuring presence to get through a hard time. Some of us like to have our space and to be left alone. A lot of the time, if you're struggling with depression, your friends get caught up with wanting to be there for you - which is totally great - but, being there for someone is not limited to being physically present and reassuring. Being there for someone could mean talking to your friend about something else to take their mind off of things, texting silly memes, or making them a snack. Everybody likes to be comforted in different ways and functions differently in their friendships. Source: iStock
How has depression effected your life? What would you like your friends to know about your condition? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.