What NOT to say to friend with depression
Today is World Mental Health Day, and sometimes people with the best intentions doesn't know how to help their friends that are suffering from mental health issues.
While has been my thing to fight the stigma that comes with the "depressed, anxious, ADD" labels, and I tend to talk a lot about it here, want to acknowledge that the support system around a depressed person also needs help.
1. Don't be condescending
One thing that really bothers me is condescension, saying things like "but you have it all, you're healthy, and your family loves you" that I know. I'm also aware that my problems aren't the end of the world, that I'm healthy, but when I heard that it makes me feel guilty and it does not help. Don't use "we all have bad days" well, my bad days affect me physically -and I don't pretend that other people don't have them. I don't want attention but would love to feel okay with myself again. Hiding my bad days made me anxious.
2. "Don't be sad" "Can you just be happy for once"?
Please, avoid telling people to stop being sad. It's a terrible line!
And, mental health issues are not like a cold, they don't go away that easily. Most people would love to wake up and be happy, just like that. However, depression doesn't care about our wishes; it creeps in and sometimes stopping it depends on medication and support.
3. Stop whining, I feel like walking on eggshells around you
[Thanks to my best friend Becky for these two]
I didn't share my struggles for the longest time due to the issue of not wanting to be whiny. Of course, the results were terrible because my depression grew stronger and felt lonelier than ever. If someone with anxiety or depression felt comfortable enough to share her/his struggles with you, it's not about whining, believe me. And, if you feel uncomfortable having to deal with someone who's struggling, do some research. When I had anxiety episodes, someone who was there to hold my hand, that sometimes is more than enough.
4. Have you tried exercise? Or getting a pet?
Look, healthy lifestyle works wonders for some people, but it's not the solution for every mental health issue. I mean, my workouts happen five days a week. Sunshine is great, but it doesn't work as well as therapy. And most of us would love that having a pet was the cure for depression. Trust me, Lola helps immensely.
5. Don't feel sorry for yourself/it's all in your head
That makes me feel furious, do you know what's hard? Not being able to control my head, or having triggers that cause my anxiety go up the roof. I wish I knew what's wrong with me.
You might consider our reactions and emotions to what you say incredibly unreasonable. I will not argue about it. Nevertheless, bear in mind that someone affected by depression does have a lot of “irrational” thoughts that aren't considered normal or standard.
These are ways that you can help and support your loved ones:
We know it's awkward, and you might feel lost and uneasy about it, and I don't blame you. But sometimes a simple "I care" works wonders with someone who's struggling. Also, "it's okay to feel this way" makes one feel like we're not freaks.
I'm always here if you need to talk :)