I would like to start this post with reiterating to you the fact that being depressed isn’t a life choice that someone has made, they’re trying to get better, that’s all they want is to be better. I would also like to point out “depressed” is merely a label and treating someone different because they have depression is disgusting and you need to grow up.
I know a few people battling depression, some winning, some fighting their hardest. I see people, sometimes even just people they barely know, using the fact that they have a mental illness against them countless times a day, like it’s something they can control, like pointing out their mental illness is going to be offensive. The truth here is that trying to use the word “depressed” as an insult against someone who is quite aware that they are depressed, doesn’t work. Do you want to know what it does? It reminds them that all the feelings that are sitting there inside their chest, the thoughts whirling inside their head, they’re still there, they haven’t gone away. No matter how hard they’re trying to be happy, to be better, to feel these things and not just fake it to convince the people around them, they’re still there. So, I guess this is lesson one of this post: stop trying to offend someone with pointing out their mental illness.
Let’s go back to basics for a second or two. Before someone acknowledges that it’s not normal for someone to be that sad all the time, to hate people that much, before they get labelled professionally as depressed, they’re going to be in denial. By all means help that person to try and see what they’re doing, that they’re shutting out the whole world, that it would be beneficial to seek some help. You need to draw a line where that stops though. Don’t bombard a person with taunts of “you need to get help”, don’t get multiple other people to start doing it as well. You need to let the person, come to terms that things aren’t right on their own. Drop hints, whatever, but you need to leave it at that. By overwhelming someone with “help” you’re merely pushing them further away from reality.
Once someone does agree to get some help, and is diagnosed with a mental illness, if they confide in you with this thing that’s going on in their life (most people don’t like the whole world to know) never, and I honestly cannot say this enough, don’t betray their confidence and tell multiple other people. You probably don’t realise how much that person is actually putting themselves out there by telling you, but it is a lot. By telling you they’re feeling VERY vulnerable, so if you go and tell everyone you know that so and so is depressed, you are plainly an idiot, who in the first place didn’t deserve to be trusted. If they want you to keep quiet, then you keep quiet unless you feel they are hurting themselves more. Then obviously in that case, tell someone who can actually help, not the most popular girl in school who can get word of it around the quickest.
People need to not put everything that someone does down to their mental illness. “Oh she’s not going to the party because she’s depressed.” Or “He’s not playing footy this weekend because he’s depressed” they are really bad examples but you get the idea. Maybe she’s not going to the party because she won’t know anyone there, maybe she has other things on. Maybe he’s not playing because he is actually injured, maybe he has other commitments. The thing is you don’t know, and therefore you don’t have the right to automatically assume that the reasoning behind something is because they have depression.
And finally, I have a list of things you should never, ever say to someone that is depressed, or even that you think is depressed. You would think that it would just be common knowledge to not say these things, but no I have actually heard them being said.
- "Its all in you're head." Seriously you need to leave if you think that you have any idea, and I mean you as in the person who has absolutely no idea about the persons situation or in fact any knowledge into anything to do with mental illnesses except for that health assignment you did in year ten.
- "There are a lot of people worse off than you." Do you know what man, yeah there are. However being one individual there isn't a hell of a lot that one can do, so how about they take care of themselves and their mental health first before taking on the rest of the world.
- "I thought you were stronger than that." I would like for you to realise that someone with depression is trying their absolute hardest to maintain the amount of strong they have in them. They do not need to have someone looking down on them telling them that they aren't strong.
- "You need to get out more." Yes because telling someone they need to get out more is going to make them more willing to leave the security of their home and actually want to be around you, it really is.
- "Yay! You don't look depressed today!" Ah yes I am magically cured overnight, one good night's sleep and I was having a good morning until you decided to go and mess it all up with your stupid little comment, thank you, much appreciated.
- "You should buy nicer clothes, it'll make you happier." I really do not think that someone would be wearing their clothes if they didn't like them, so really does it matter if you think they're nice or not. Maybe they're comfortable, maybe the clothes someone wheres doesn't really have that much of an effect on how someone feels, and will definitely not cure depression.
- "You always look so tired." Yes, defiantly telling someone that they have bags under their eyes is going to make them feel SO much better.
- "You need a boyfriend/girlfriend" or similarly "you need a hobby." Please don't tell someone with depression what you think they need, because let's be real here, no one actually NEEDS someone to depend on, and nine times out of ten someone with depression has a fear of getting close to someone only to be disappointed.
- "If you don't like they way you feel, then change it!" *shrugs shoulders like it's just THAT easy*. If someone could just change the way they feel with a click of their fingers wouldn't the world just be a nicer place. However this doesn't just happen and as we are all human beings I thought that would be common knowledge.
In the end this post turned into a little bit of a rant about the stupidity of some people and what comes out of their mouth. Although if you take anything away from this post, please let it be that someone with depression isn't abnormal, or weird or any of those other descriptive words that aren't coming to me right now. Depression is actually a serious mental illness, don't poke fun at it, don't make fun of someone with it. I guess that my general message here is that you should think before you speak or act, around anyone.