So someone comes to you and said that they are depressed and your first responses (out of goodness and good intentions) are:
“It’s all in your head.”
“You have a choice to be happy.”
“You are making it worse in your mind.”
Aannddd you effectively rob their rights to identify what is it that they’re feeling at that time. You shut them up when they are trying to reach out.
“But they can’t sulk all day! Let’s address THE ISSUE.”
You are right, we have to eventually address the issue. But this is not the time, and that’s not your job. Addressing the issue then and there is like trying to teach swimming when someone is drowning. Maybe we want to pull that person out of the water first.
Addressing the issue is best left to the professionals, the doctors and pastors. How about you? You are a support system, an emergency number at 3 in the morning. (You can address the issue too, ONLY if they ask for it, only when they’re ready.)
“But it’s just a state of mind.”
They know it better than anybody that it IS a state of mind, yet they still can’t do anything about it, they can’t get out, because to a clinically depression person, the mind is both a heaven and hell. And with no one to acknowledge what is it that’s going through their heads, the world can be such a lonely place.
“But you have been like this over and over, you haven’t improve.”
You are WRONG. Firstly, to some, depression is repetitive cycle that they gotta live with, for the rest of their lives.
Secondly, you don’t know what you don’t experience. You aren’t aware how much they have tried different methods of healing, falling down and bouncing back, almost giving up on life, but refused and paddle through. You don’t see how much, after all these years, they have been getting better (the improvement might seem small to you, but it’s momentous for them).
And for them to crawl out of darkness and reach out to YOU, takes a lot courage, because they do feel a lot of shame for having these same silly thoughts, again and again.
But you don’t have to do much. You just have to be around.
– MK Zainal, diagnosed with Cyclothymia, Bipolar II, Borderline Personality Disorder, and whatever else that the psychiatrists can’t seem to decide on.
– Inspired by http://inkandfeet.com/how-to-help-someone-with-depression.
– Photo from http://www.robot-hugs.com/nest/