There is a common misconception about a depression: that you have to have a traumatic home life, a horrible experience or witness the death of a loved one to become depressed. But in fact, depression has no rhyme or reason – it just happens.
In an article written by Hope Racine originally posted on Literally, Darling, Hope clarifies that she has never been depressed, but says that she knows a lot about depression.
“A lot of us are lucky enough to have the ability to say ‘I’m feeling depressed,’ as opposed to ‘I have depression.’ There’s a big difference between those statements, and the key word is feeling.”
She draws her knowledge from personal experiences with people close to her falling into depression.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” she says.
Depression hurts more than just you
Loving someone with depression is hard, Hope confirms.
“We’re not inside their heads. We can’t understand why they are doing things they are doing. We can’t understand why they won’t listen to reason, and they often don’t have the ability to articulate why.”
Acceptance and help through their dark times will mean more to them than it is ever comprehendible.
Your loved one isn’t sad.
Depression is an affliction, not a state of being.
Depression has the ability to cut off people from a person’s life, to cripple their social life and to constantly put them through hell, making everything more stressful, making them doubt themselves, and making everything difficult.
Depression can bring a person to a point where they will endure actual physical pain, taking over someone’s life to the point where it’s easier to just feel nothing.
They’re not depressed because of you
So don’t take it personally.
It’s hard not to take things personally, and even more difficult to not wonder if you did something to make your loved one feel depressed.
Being with strangers can make it easier for depressed people: they get to put on a show – pretend they aren’t depressed for a short period of time. It hurts to see this, and sometimes one can’t help but wonder if it’s just you causing the depression. But it’s not.
If your loved one is acting strange around you, it’s a good sign in a strange way. It means they love and trust you enough to share this with you.
Sometimes they try to hide it, and sometimes they’ll push you away. The only thing to do is just be there.
You can’t ‘fix’ them.
Endless supplies of positivity aren’t helpful for depressed people, and actually do more harm than good. It frustrates them to be reminded that they aren’t full of cheer.
Most importantly, they aren’t sad. It looks as though they are, and most times they feel incredibly down, but cheering up won’t help. Depressed people experience a complete lack of emotion, and you can’t fix something that doesn’t exist.
All the funny animal gifs in the world aren’t going to cure them.
Just be there, remind them that this is temporary, and don’t tell them to keep trying but just remind them that there is a light out there. Listen and validate their feelings, but don’t try to explain them or cheer the person up. Just be normal, but be supportive.
Any emotion is good.
Sometimes, people start the long, long climb up out of depression, and emotions come back to them in weird ways. Some people get the crying, the breaking down and sobbing. Comfort them.
Some people get the manic happiness that seems incredibly fake. Encourage this, but be careful. It can switch quickly. Most people though, feel anger. For some unknown reason, it seems to be the easiest way for depressed people to vent after months of non-feeling.
They will get angry at you. They will scream at the cat and swear at their shoe. The strangest and even the smallest things will set them off. It seems backwards, but by getting angry, they’ve found a way to vent their frustration.
Encourage it, or at the very least, let them rage in peace.
Take care of yourself.
Your first thought will be to take care of your loved one, but loving someone with depression can mess you up as well. You’ll feel like you need to be in it with them, but you don’t.
You need to take care of yourself.
Sometimes you’ll feel like a horrible person for bragging about a new promotion or going out with friends, and feel as though you should hide it from your loved one or downplay your accomplishments because it seems like a smack in the face to them.
Don’t. They will still be happy for you. Your success and happiness might remind them of what they’re lacking, but you cannot sacrifice yourself.
Depression can suck the life out of everything, but you need to be careful to not let it suck the life out of you.
Read about it, find out about it – it’s amazing how ignorant and misinformed the general population is about depression.