As someone who has had depression for most of their life, I’ve gotten to know my illness and what works for me.
I know that on the bad days, I need to give myself permission to do nothing but watch the tv and eat chocolate. On the good days, I have to work as hard as I can. Otherwise, I’ll feel guilty on the next bad day for having wasted it.
During every mental health campaign, we hear the importance of talking. Whether it’s with a trusted friend or a therapist, it’s important to talk about your good days and your bad days.
Knowing you listened can often be enough.
But what happens when someone opens up to you and you don’t know what to say?
I’ll be honest – most days, I want to hear nothing in particular. I rant to get everything off of my chest. Knowing you listened can often be enough. A long reply isn’t always necessary.
I Know It’s Tough
Usually, I let everything out all at once. It doesn’t matter if I’ve text you pages of word-vomit or sobbed for ten minutes. I’ve found that hearing these four words can lift a big weight from my shoulders.
“I know it’s tough.”
It’s possible you have no idea what I’m going through. Maybe you’ve never experienced anything like depression. But if you’ve listened to me, you should be able to see that I’m having a hard time.
This validation goes a long way. By acknowledging how I am, you’re reminding me that it’s okay for me to feel like I’m struggling. Depression isn’t easy and anyone else would feel just as bad in my shoes.
You need more than cliches.
There can be a panic that comes when someone discusses depression and you don’t know what to say. It’s easy to whip out cliches like “it’ll get better” and hope that pacifies the person until the conversation changes.
If you really want to help someone, you need more than cliches. You need to actively listen, take on board what they’re saying and let them know you understand.
Sometimes it can be difficult to admit to yourself how bad your depression is. You wonder if it can really be this awful or if it’s all in your head.
Knowing that someone else sees it too can lift a huge weight off of your shoulders. It’s no longer something you thought you might have but were afraid to talk about. Now it’s a real issue that you’re dealing with and you’re not alone.
So the next time your friend is having a bad day, hopefully this will help make them feel better. It may feel like you’re not saying much but less can be more.