Understanding depression is difficult. Please note, that within psychology it is widely known that mental illness is very different to every individual, and this post is by no means intended to generalise. This post was written to give a view on what people who have depression struggle with, and what they would like others to know. All these points are based on statements made by people who have experienced depression, and have been made anonymous.
It’s not as simple as eating healthier or exercising more.
Though these things can help managing symptoms for some/many, they often do not solve the underlying problem. Telling us that we should just do these things dismisses our problems and makes us feel like you’re not taking us seriously. You probably mean well, but please be careful with how you phrase these things
I know you do not always understand why this is the way it is, chances are, I also don’t know why I’m feeling this way.
If you can, try to imagine how frustrating it must be too feel absolutely horrible most of the time, for no apparent reason. It just happens. And then add people asking you – while tutting at you – why you feel this way because “there must have been something that cause this.” The cause of this is called ‘depression’ and it does not always have a specific trigger. I know you’re trying to understand, and possibly relate or explain, but you are diminishing my struggle by trying to tell me it was just that one test that didn’t go as well as I would have liked.
Sometimes there is no emotion, sometimes there’s too much. Sometimes both at the same time.
And again, it’s often not clear why.
I really want to be better, please stop telling me I’m just not trying hard enough.
Nobody wants to feel this way. Nobody wants to feel horrible all the time. I AM trying, but on the days where even getting out of bed is too much, someone telling me I need to try harder is the last thing I need. You are dismissing my struggle by telling me this, and it’s hurtful.
I can’t just snap out of it.
If that was possible, we’d have done it long ago. This is key in understanding depression.
I do not want to hurt you.
It’s what we’re probably also terrified of. We do not want to hurt or harm those around us with our depression. We do not want to annoy anyone with our illness.
I constantly feel like a burden.
It might sound sappy to you, but telling us that we’re loved and supported might not solve everything, but it could help us open up about our feelings. Part of understanding depression is acknowledging a person might feel like a burden, and that it could help if you reassure them that they are not.
We appreciate every effort you make to help us.
You might not always go about it in a way that really helps, but we do really appreciate that you’re trying. We might not always show it that clearly, but you might guess why we find that hard to do. The most important thing is, please do not think we don’t notice or don’t appreciate, we do, and we’re grateful.
- We are not by definition, asking you for an immediate fix.
You don’t have to try to fix everything for us, or give us an unstoppable wave of (well-intended!) advice, sometimes being there, listening and showing that you’re trying to understand, is enough. When we try to open up about our problems, we’re not necessarily asking for solutions, but we appreciate your support immensely.
It’s not your fault.
It’s nobody’s fault. Nobody did anything that specifically lead to this problem It’s an illness. There can be contributing factors, but it’s nobody’s “fault”. This is another key element in understanding depression.
I really appreciate it when you ask me if you can do anything for me, but sometimes I’m not sure what I need from others.
For some people it helps when you give them clear examples of what you would be able to do for them. “Can I get you some tea maybe?” “Would you like to get some fresh air together?”