(TW/ depression, suicide)
Depression is a very serious mental illness that claims the life's of thousands each year. Despite that, many don't even believe depression exists at all. There's a lot of arrogant people in the world, who don't like to believe in things unless they have been through it themselves.
These people aren't normally very respectful to people with mental illness, which often leaves them saying things to people with depression that number one aren't true and number two are quite frankly pretty rude. That said, some people aren't rude at all. They simply don't understand. We aren't taught about mental health in school, so it's no wonder many don't understand depression or about how to talk about it with others, especially those who suffer from the illness themselves.
If you suffer from depression, I almost guarantee that you have had at least one of these things said to you, if not more. I know I have, on plenty of occasions. By sharing this post, I hope to educate those who don't suffer from depression about how to talk about mental illness sensitively with the depressive without triggering them or making them worse.
1. Cheer up
This is the worst thing to say to anyone. Period. You don't know what people are going through that they may not be sharing with you. It may seem a light hearted and friendly thing to say but someone may be going through a hard time right now and can't simply cheer up. It's the same with someone with depression. Depression isn't something which can just be cured by just trying to be happier or cheering up. Telling someone with depression to cheer up isn't going to make their life's any easier. Don't you think they would cheer up if they could?
2. You were fine yesterday
Yes, depression isn't just being sad or upset for a couple of days. Depression isn't normal grief or sadness. But one symptom of depression can be unpredictable mood swings. Some days are better than others and some days are just god damn terrible. Just because I may have seemed fine yesterday, it doesn't mean that I was. I may have been better at hiding it yesterday, but today not so much. Don't ever tell someone with depression that they were fine yesterday, because the chances were they weren't. Depression is an invisible illness.
3. You have nothing to be depressed about
God damn, don't you think I know? You see yes sometimes depression can be caused by a particularly stressful time or situation. But other times, it's brought on by nothing at all expect a chemical imbalance inside the brain. Which is why Ph.D. students get depression, multi-millionaires get depression and normal folk, get depression. Don't you think if I could choose not to have depression I would?
4. There are people worse off than you
Thanks! Make me feel more guilty why don't you? I know that there are people worse off than me. Depression reminds me of this fact nearly every single day; I don't need you to remind me as well. People with depression know that there are people in the world who live below the poverty line, people who live in war-torn countries and those who don't have basic sanitation and health care to live safely and happily. But depression can strike anyone. People who live in these unfortunate conditions and those who live very comfortable conditions. Mental illness does not discriminate so don't discriminate people who have a mental illness.
5. Go for a walk
If going for a walk cured depression, don't you think I would have tried that years ago? Or maybe they would prescribe them on the NHS? Umm... yes it's proven that exercise can help improve people's mental health but simply going on a walk is not a cure all. Exercise is a lifestyle change not a cure-all for mental illness. Please don't offer advice if you understand or know about mental illness.
6. Have you tried going to bed earlier or eating healthier?
This is the same as going for a walk point I made previously. Lifestyle changes do not cure depression, yes; they can do wonders for some but there not a cure all. If you suddenly start eating five fruit and veg a day, it doesn't mean that your depression is going to automatically disappear. Active, fit and healthy people can still get depression, and they do all these things already. So please only offer advice if you know what you are on about or can go about it sensitively.
7. I've had depression too once (when they really haven't)
Depression is NOT an adjective. It's not a personality trait. Depression is a mental illness, one which is extremely serious and can in unfortunate circumstances end people's lives. By all means, share your stories and experiences with depression or mental health in general. But don't misuse the word and throw it around like you would the words happy or sad because depression really is on a different scale altogether.
8. It's not worth crying about
One of the main symptoms of depression, one which I have a lot of personal experience is crying a lot and being very tearful, most of the time at nothing at all. Something could start me off, like knocking a glass of milk over. I know it's not worth crying over. I wouldn't normally cry about such a minor problem, but on a bad mental health day, it's easy to set me off. What makes it worse is other people telling you it's not worth crying over. People with depression don't want to cry in public over little things, but they can't help it, so give them a break.
9. But you got out of bed, didn't you?
Yes, lots of people with depression don't have the energy or motivation to get out of bed in the morning. But this isn't the same for everyone with depression. Depression is very subjective and varies significantly depending on the person. The worst thing you can do is compare what you think depression is to someone with depression because although yes there are the main symptoms of the illness which present themselves in nearly all cases, there are other symptoms which are not the same for everyone.
10. Depression isn't a real illness
Depression is real. Whether you want to believe it is or not. Just because you haven't experienced it yourself or seen others close to you go through it, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Depression is an invisible illness but just because it's invisible it doesn't mean it's not real. It just means it's something you can't always see. Chances are you know someone who has or has been through some form of depression. Respect everyone, because pain isn't always visible.
I hope you guys enjoyed this very long winded post. I got a bit carried away, sorry! Actually, I'm not sorry at all because I'm passionate about the subject.
I would love to know your thoughts on the topic in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, as always X