Don’t Underestimate Your Depressed Friends
Have you ever heard “but you’re going through so much so I didn’t want to…”. Whether it’s withholding difficult conversations or withholding an invitation to an event, treating someone with depression as if they are fragile holds their illness against them as if it’s their fault. Don’t assume what depression is or is not without talking to them. Being excluded from events and even conversations about positive things because someone is struggling with depression doesn’t help their depression. It further confirms the stigma that people with mental illness should be sheltered from more difficulty because they can’t handle it. Here’s what everyone should know about depression:
1. Depressed people can handle the truth. You need to tell me I have food in my teeth? Tell me. You need to tell me I hurt your feelings last week? Tell me. We are not incapable of dealing with tough things in life. Our life with depression is tough, but we are still here and sugar-coating news or minimizing the situation to spare feelings does not help someone with depression. It confirms the belief that we are not strong enough and that we aren’t enough no matter how hard we try. That’s just not true, so say how you feel so that we have the space to respond and feel we are equal and that we are of value to you.
2. Depressed people can be there for you too. People who struggle with depression are some of the strongest people alive. Because we have our own obstacles does not mean we can’t support you. Whether you’re getting married, getting pregnant, lost a parent or you are struggling with depression, you chose us in this friendship for a reason. When you tell us the truth, let us support you. Our lives might be perfect and we might need a minute to process what you’re telling us, but I can guarantee you we will be ready to celebrate you or hold your hand. We will be there to cry with you and tell you what we’ve learned about coping, conquering fears, and coming out the other side. Let us in because your friend with depression might be the best person to walk through life with you.
3. Depression is sad, but depressed people can still have fun. Sure, we may sometimes struggle to get out of bed and times where it’s difficult to convince ourselves we matter, but there are still moments of sunlight in our lives. We can still have fun and we can still enjoy the company of others. Depression often comes in waves, but the calm in between allows us to keep going, be around other people, and hang onto the real truth so we can keep fighting for our mental health. Laughter is still welcomed in our lives. Because we enjoy the reminder that you care, don’t forget our invite to coffee or your birthday party. We like to have fun and can party with the best of everyone else, and we might even lead the line dance for everyone else.
No matter what, depression sucks and no one with depression asks to have this mental illness. However, we are not invisible. We are capable of so many things because we have been in and through the darkness and keep fighting to live another day. But just as much as there is dark, there is light. We live strong, love hard, and laugh as much as we can. Don’t count us out on the good moments in life because we deal with the bad more often. You never know, we might just be the best friend you’ll have once you give us the chance to show our strong with a little bit of party animal on the side.