So Everyone Knows I’m Depressed
Last week I wrote an article about how I’m currently struggling with depression and it got a lot more attention than I anticipated. To be honest, I don’t even know what kind of feedback I expected to get. I kind of thought people would read it and then act like they didn’t.
I posted it to FaceBook and forgot that actual people in my life would read it. It didn’t even cross my mind that my family would read it. But they did. A lot of people seemed to read it.
I started to get messages and texts from family, close friends, casual friends, acquaintances, old friends and complete strangers. I’ll admit, it was a bit overwhelming because I hadn’t expected to get that kind of reaction. I hadn’t prepared myself for the conversations that followed.
People told me I was brave for writing the article and being so open and honest but I didn’t feel brave at all. I felt, and still feel, incredibly weak. A lot of people go through depression and they don’t write articles about it, so why did I? I genuinely wanted people to know that they weren’t alone. But it was amazing to find out that I wasn’t alone either.
Sometimes introverts can find themselves feeling the most lonely when they’re surrounded by people at a crowded party. I think that’s the best analogy I can come up with to describe how I felt once the messages started to roll in. I seem to have the best people in my life- I got truly heart-warming messages from people I really care about. But I’ve never really been one for attention, especially when it comes to something as serious as depression. And sometimes it felt like people were reaching out and saying the things they “should” be saying.
You’re not alone.
Text me whenever.
I’m here for you.
You’ll get through this.
Call me the next time you can’t sleep.
I started to imagine actually calling some of these people at 3am and what their reaction would be. It’s tough to know what to say to someone who is in a dark place. I completely empathize with that because I never know what to say when someone is crying. It’s a really tough position, and almost anything you say to a person in that situation will be the wrong thing.
I got messages all over the spectrum. Someone emailed me to explain the depression they had gone through and said that it was worse than what I was going through, so obviously I should be able to get through this. One person reached out to say they really wanted to help, and then gave me a list of rules to follow in order for them to help me; one of the rules was I couldn’t mention suicide. Seriously. Others texted me with song recommendations or random jokes- not bringing my article up because they didn’t have to- I knew that they had read it and they were trying to help in the best way they knew how.
It’s really hard to actually help someone who is in such a clouded state of being. But there are ways to do it. I don’t recommend belitting someone’s depression by talking about how yours was worse. I really don’t recommend giving a list of rules to follow in order to be helped. I wish I didn’t have to say that.
The things I appreciated the most were the silent affirmations. One of my best friends emailed me a playlist that I could only open when I was sad in the middle of the night. An old friend who helped me through my last bit of depression reached out to help me once again. My sister called me just to say “I love you” over and over again so I couldn’t forget it. And local friends got me out of the house every single day to go to dinner or comedy shows or just to come over and play with their dogs.
While the “I’m here for you, I’ve been there, I know what you’re going through, call me anytime” texts and messages meant the world to me, it was the people who actively tried to distract me from the darkness that helped the most.
If you know someone going through depression, just give them a distraction so they can escape from their mind for a while. If they’re a family member or best friend, don’t just talk to them about it once and then pretend like it’s all taken care of. Text them regularly, make sure they’re getting out of bed and eating, send them a song or book recommendation. It will help them out more than anyone can ever realize.
Being open about my depression didn’t make me feel like a strong person, but it made me feel loved. Now my notebook isn’t the only one I can turn to in the middle of the night when my brain tries to convince me I only have one way out of this.