Okay, I run into this a lot. A. LOT. I don’t think people are trying to be insensitive assholes. I believe they think they’re being helpful when it’s really hurtful & revealing of how much of a fucking stigma there is against mental illness.
Anyway, here’s my list of 12 things you should never say to someone with depression:
1) Get some exercise & you’ll feel better.
Okay, let’s take a quick crash course on what depression is. Depression is a CHEMICAL DISORDER of the mind. It’s not just having a “bad day” or “feeling sad.” Yes, exercise can release endorphins & lift your mood. However. If there is already a deficiency, it’s not gonna boost it up high enough to make it have a lasting effect. Let alone not having the energy to work out. Sometimes, it takes all the energy you have just to function in your everyday life.
2) I cured my depression with vitamins. You should take some.
Oy. Okay, as someone who daily takes several vitamins & supplements, I can tell you that helps your physical health but not necessarily your mental health. Yes, there are those who think they have depression, they up their vitamin D, & they feel better. I am not one of those people.
3) You’re just being emotional. You need to get over it.
4) It’s not that bad.
Said the person with no mental illness.
5) It’s all in your head.
No shit, Sherlock. Where else would MENTAL ILLNESS come from? For fuck’s sake…
6) You don’t look depressed. You seem fine.
Yeah, you learn quickly to hide it. Because if you show it, you get unsolicited advice, i.e. this list.
7) You look depressed.
Thanks. It’s the depression. 😉
8) You need to get out of bed & get something done.
Depression can make you unable to sleep (insomnia) or all you want to do is sleep (hypersomnia). I tend to lean towards hypersomnia but lately, it’s been insomnia. There are times when I don’t have the strength to get out of bed. Nothing is getting done. Make your peace with it.
9) You should eat something. You’ll feel better.
I either overeat or I have no appetite. There is no in between for me. Case in point, it’s 1500 & I’ve only had iced tea.
10) Isn’t depression just sadness?
No. God, I hate this stereotype. * bridge pinch*
It’s more than sadness. It’s an empty, worthless, abysmal feeling. You feel hollow & cold inside. You don’t want to be around others, including your loved ones. You feel guilty for not being over the moon at certain events or for unexplained bouts of crying. Your emotions aren’t all over the path. They’re just not there. And then the guilt cycle continues.
11) My uncle/sister/boyfriend/mail carrier had depression & they went to this therapist. You should call them.
No. Don’t do that. I get you’re trying to help but you don’t know how much strength it takes to just admit it to someone else. We’re scared of being judged, rejected, & feeling even more alone. Pushing us off on someone reinforces the belief that no one really cares. If our own friend doesn’t want to hear us, then what’s the point?
12) Have you ever tried hurting yourself?
Fuck you. This is a deeply personal issue. Don’t EVER ask that. And if they share those details with you, treat it like gold. That’s a huge risk for them to reach out.
And things you should say:
1) I’m sorry.
Thank you. I am, too.
2) How can I help?
This is huge. Sometimes we just need someone to ask. The smallest gesture really helps.
3) I’m here for you (& mean it).
There’s nothing quite as infuriating as someone who claims to be there for you & then is AWOL when you need them. If you’re gonna say it, mean it. If we call at 0100, take it. If we cry at a commercial, be understanding (even if you think it’s ridiculous). If we want to lie on the couch all day covered in a blanket & watching Netflix in silence, be okay with that. I can personally think of about 3 people who are actually there for me. They are my lifeline.
4) I’m thankful for you/I’m glad you’re here.
There are times when I feel completely invisible. If I faded away, would anyone notice? Would anyone miss me? Telling someone you’re happy they are alive doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it really is. It proves that someone cares. Sometimes all we want to hear is that one person needs us. Just one.
5) I love you.
Love is powerful. Don’t underestimate the effect it has on others.