“If you had appendicitis, [any one] would expect you to …get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders.” (Holland) Some of the things that I will write on this post apply to anyone and everyone, but you must understand that it is amplified if you have depression. Furthermore, you must understand that it doesn’t matter how right what you’re saying may be, the person with depression has an entirely different perception of reality, so what may seem obvious to you, may seem like a fantasy to them. Likewise you may have had depression and something may have worked for you but you must understand that depression affects each individual, individually. Finally, don’t give up on them; one day they will be able to find happiness and you both will be so grateful if you stuck by them (Miller).
Things you should NEVER say to someone with depression:
- It’s really not that bad. / It could be worse.
- Count your blessings! / Look at all the good in your life.
- It’s never helpful to tell them to do something, as counterintuitive as that may seem, it honestly just makes the person with depression really frustrated. Don’t tell them to do something like, go for a walk, exercise, do something productive, pray, read your scriptures, etc.
- Things will get better.
- Do not EVER make promises if you don’t plan on follow through.
- It’s all in your head. While that may be true, it is because of imbalance of biochemicals in the brain, which means telling us this will not change anything.
- Stop being crazy/stupid.
- Smile or Just be happy!
- It’s ultimately your choice, You just have to choose to be happy, etc
“But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively.” (Holland)
10. Finally do NOT EVER pretend like you know their life or their challenges. You can say that you can relate, and explain, but do NOT ever say “I know exactly how you feel.”
Things you should do to help someone with depression:
- Tell them the honest truth, especially if it is regarding them. This (honesty) may just be something that only I find very valuable, but believe me that at least if it is concerning how someone comes across to others or a characteristic that makes people run, everyone wants to be informed of these things.
- Offer help ANYTIME. But only if you mean it, goes back to don’t make promises if you don’t plan on follow through. Often times people struggling with depression, don’t know what kind of help they need, but they need to know that there are people there if they did need some.
- Always be a listening ear. Don’t try to fix their problems when they tell you everything. Just listen. Just be there.
- Tell them that you don’t understand. You can tell them that you wish that you did, but it is so meaningful when you hear someone say, “gosh, that’s really rough, I have no idea what that’s like.”
- Talk to them like they are a totally normal person. 100% of the time. Even when they are being crazy, treat them like anyone else.
- Find something they enjoy and do it with them often. (For example, I love football, if I had a group of friends offer to play football with me on a weekly basis, I would be so down for that, but when someone tells me to exercise at least 3 times a week, I want to tell them to fall in a ditch.)
- Tell them that they are okay, good, pretty, etc more times and more times than you think should ever be necessary. If you think you’ve already told them, doesn’t matter; tell them again. Tell them you enjoy them. Continue to tell them constantly. It probably will seem annoying; it may seem repetitive, but it will keep them sane.
- Similar to the last, be extremely (to the point that you probably think it’s obnoxiously) present in his/her life. This does not mean that you need to spend every waking second with them. It does not even mean you need to see them every day, or week. No, this means, just call them once in a while to check in, send them a text, a facebook message, something that lets them know that you are thinking about them. Or, for some of the insane cases, (like myself) that lets them know that you are still alive.
- If you want them to do something more, compliment them on it when they do it. For example, if you really like how they go out of their way to help others, tell them and they will do it more.
Finally, please, just stay by the person with depression’s side. Stand by them when life hits them hard; because as human beings, we often overestimate everyone else. We think that if we disappear, they’ll have so many others, but take it from firsthand experience. That is not the case! Do whatever you can to prove to them that you will be there for them no matter what.