When depression wraps me in its darkness, I just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and tell the entire world to go away and leave me alone. I don’t have the strength or the energy to deal with conversation or people in general. I just want to hide in my tiny, dark cave.
As a friend or loved one of someone with depression, you want to help, to make things better, but you don’t know what to say or do. Often you don’t know what questions to ask. You don’t know how to get past the mask your loved one is hiding behind. At the same time, you’re afraid talking about the good things in your life will just make things worse. You know, like rubbing salt in a wound. Don’t be afraid to share your life. Sometimes it’s exactly what I need to hear, the perfect distraction from my problems.
So how do you talk to someone suffering from depression? I know what I don’t want you to say. Please don’t say:
“Just think happy thoughts. I don’t understand what you have to be so sad about.”
“Everything will be OK, I promise.”
“I cut out sugar and I was cured! You should try it.” “You just need to snap out of this.”
“So many people out there are worse off than you.”
Instead ask me if I want to talk about it. If I do, just listen. Don’t try to solve my problems. You can’t. I have to solve them myself. If I don’t want to talk, don’t try to pressure me. Just let me know you are available to listen when I’m ready.
Ask me what you can do to help today. Some days the simple act of getting out of bed is a challenge. Offer to pick up dinner. Helping doesn’t have to be a huge, elaborate production. Let me know I’m not alone, that I’m important to you.
Words cannot cure depression. But they can help. Until next time, remember to breathe.
GLENDA THOMPSON, a columnist for the Pleasanton Express, is currently writing a series on mental health. She is not a doctor, therapist, mental health expert or medical professional, therefore, you should not use these columns as medical advice. Glenda resides in Charlotte where she is hard at work on the second novel in a series about Texas Rangers with dark secrets. Her first novel, Broken Toys, is now available for preorder on Amazon.com.