I started this blog about two months ago. In that time, more than half a dozen women have approached me and told me that they, too, have struggled or are struggling with some form of true depression. I am so grateful that these women have felt comfortable enough with me to share this! It means a lot to me, and it is a big step for them.
I love hearing from people about the topics I write about!
What I find fascinating, though, are the silent ones. The people who I know are reading my blogs, and I know had no clue about my struggle with depression, and yet when I see them, make no mention of it.
I’m not offended by this; it’s just interesting. Why are people afraid to talk about depression, even when I have made it clear that I’m okay talking about it?
Perhaps they, like many people, don’t “believe” true depression exists. Or perhaps it’s just easier for them to ignore it.
OR, perhaps it’s because people feel unprepared or ill-equipped, fearing that they might say the wrong thing?
So I come to you today to equip you, to give you a few insights (based on my own personal experience) on how to talk to someone who has admitted they are struggling with depression! So read on, and fear not!
1. You cannot make someone’s depression worse or better. It’s not about you.
Find relief in this! It is not in your control. Depression is rooted solely in a person’s mind, either chemically or psychosomatically, or both. So, unless you’re telepathic, psychic, or a psychiatrist, you’re in the clear. :)
2. Do not say, “What can I do to make you feel better?” because, see #1.
3. Do not say, “Maybe you need to pray more.” Even the most devout person who truly believes in the healing power of Christ can suffer from depression. [More on this soon to come.]
4. Do not say, “Oh man, I know exactly how you feel.” Cause, well, you don’t. Even if you’ve struggled with depression before, you don’t know exactly how I feel! (Even I have made the mistake of saying this before!)
DO say, “I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this. If you ever need to talk, I’m here for you.”
5. Do not say, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about this; I’m such a bad friend/parent/sibling.” Because, again, it’s not about you! (No offense) :) I’m realizing that many, many people suffer from some form of depression and NEVER TELL ANYONE. If I haven’t even told my husband, why would I tell you? (Again, no offense!) :)
DO say, “I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with this for so long. I’ll be praying for you as you begin to work through it.”
6. Do not say, “Think about all the wonderful things in your life!” One of the biggest feelings in depression is guilt. We know we have wonderful things in our lives. We KNOW it. And that makes us feel even worse because we can’t understand why we are depressed. It makes no sense.
Do say, “It is so great that you are finally talking about this! Hang in there, and fight the good fight.”
7. Don’t say, “Let me know if you ever want to hang out.” Because, honestly, we won’t ever let you know when we want to hang out. Because a huge symptom of depression is wanting to be alone.
Do say, “Let’s get together this week. I’m free Tuesday at 9:30, does that work for you?” Sometimes we NEED someone to take the reins and kick us out of our house. :) So making definitive plans can help!
Are you getting the gist? Basically, someone who is struggling with depression needs encouragement. Pure and simple. Encouragement to seek professional help, to talk about it, to continue in taking control of the situation.
And once they’ve started on that journey, they need more encouragement to keep it up, and congratulations for getting as far as they have!
I hope this helps even one of my readers to understand a little more about how to talk to a loved one suffering depression. It’s so complicated. Even my husband, to whom I confide everything, can’t fully understand what I’ve gone through. But he’s a huge support; he gives encouragement and congratulations, and that’s all that matters. :)
For some great links on dealing with depression in your life or a loved one’s life, see my resources page!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. The comments and opinions expressed in these articles are merely comments and opinions. Please seek professional medical advice before making any changes to the diet, exercise, or medication of yourself or your children.