Skip forward a few overly-emo years to age eighteen. An argument with my boyfriend lead me to saying something ridiculous about not wanting to live anymore. I’m pretty sure that my shrill and dramatic seventeen year old voice said the words, “What’s the point of even living?!” To me, this was normal vernacular among teens. To my mom, this meant that the police should immediately be called and sent to my house while she was at work, and that my younger brother should be my caregiver until she got home to assess the situation. The police officers told my brother to take me to Taco Bell to get some fresh air. Those were their exact words. By the time my Mexican Pizza was digesting, I was in the office of a psychiatrist.
Seeing a psychiatrist was not my decision. My parents agreed that although they never spoke to me about my feelings, I was in need of a professional. Getting professional help turned out to be a great thing. I learned that I didn’t have situational depression, (depression derived from a specific situation or event) but rather, actual depression. Basically, my feelings of sadness slightly outweigh my feelings of happiness.
From age 18-22 I was on low-dose depression medication. Over the years, I realized that although the medication helped, it wasn’t necessary. I now “allow” myself to be depressed. Meaning, a few years ago, if I felt depressed or needed to spend a day in bed, I would beat myself up. I would begin a terrible cycle of self-loathing. I lashed out at others and tried my best to mask my feelings. I faked happiness when I knew I should be resting or avoiding social situations. Depression is different for everyone, but allowing myself to just have an off day every once in a while has really changed my life.
If you know someone with depression, I recommend the following:
- If they say that they don’t feel like getting out of the house, don’t shove a Mexican Pizza in their face. Instead, let them know that if they feel like venturing out, you’re available. If they would like a companion while staying in, you’re happy to join them. Misery doesn’t always love company.
- Do not compare your situation to theirs. If someone with depression has opened up and invited you into their world of mental illness, do not start comparing the time your dog was sick to this dark time in their life. No matter what you say to someone with depression, unless they know that you also suffer from the same mental illness, your point will be null and void.
- Admitting mental illness is a scary thing. I know for me personally, I felt ashamed. I was worried that people wouldn’t trust me or wouldn’t know how to act around me. Depression isn’t contagious- please carry on as usual.
- If you feel the need to give your depressed friend an extra hug every now and then, go for it. I don’t need cards or flowers, but getting some encouraging words when I least expect them really does wonders for my mood. Encouraging words are really just as simple as “I hope you have a great day.”
- Do not mention the word “crazy” to a person with depression. Being depressed is very different than being mentally deranged. I hate that I even have to mention this, but I’m going to. Acting out due to overwhelming feelings of sadness is already frustrating enough. Name-calling, even in a joking manner, can bring on new feelings of dejection and inadequacy.
- Do some research. Knowing more about depression and mental illness will enable you to help. You don’t need to study the subject or write a thesis based on your findings, but I promise that you won’t do harm by learning a bit more.
For those of you who have depression, I hope that some of the things I have mentioned resonated with you. If not, please excuse me while I go cry my eyes out. Feel free to sign my year book.
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Is it weird to say that I am loving this series?
It gives me such a small glimpse into the hearts of friends and what they are going through. Or have gone through. So that I might be a better friend to someone else someday. Inevitably, I would imagine.
I hope that those of you who battle depression are finding solace and kindred spirits in these words, and that you are clicking through to their blogs. Each woman highlighted here has written about their journey with depression on their own blogs in much more depth, so please keep clicking if you resonate with their words and writing style.
And then keep clicking through to Postpartum Progress. Where you will find yourself surrounded by support and information. The best kind of head and heart combination we human peoples need when we are struggling.
Have you considered donating even a few dollars to Postpartum Progress yet?
Let’s do what we can to support our sisters as they navigate these rough waters.
Tomorrow is InstaFriday and we’ll go one more week starting Monday. More writers. More voices. More hearts.
And so much love.