Recently I saw a video of a guy I am subscribed to on youtube. He usually makes something gaming related but he also vlogs from time to time. Over all great guy and very funny. I was very surprised when he made a very serious vlog about depression. I was surprised because it is very difficult to make other people understand how it feels and that it is nothing against them.
I don’t want to rephrase what he said, I would rather add some stuff.
When people try to help, they really mean well. The problem is the approach. A lot of times they will say things like:
- Just smile!
- Just do something fun!
- Just go out with me!
- Just do something you like!
Yes, for you it might sound like a “just this”. In reality you can’t feel happiness. When you are depressed, the feeling of happiness is nowhere to be found. You stare at your favourite book, at the instrument that you usually enjoy playing, at the whatever your hobby is, and you feel nothing but sadness. You can’t do something fun because nothing is fun. You can’t go out because you feel too weak. You can’t do something you like because you like nothing.
Someone who is clinically depressed (meaning that a doctor diagnosed you) can’t just simply snap out of it. It feels like there is no colour in the world. Everything is just grey and black. Everybody else seems to be happy. No matter what effort you make, you can’t be happy like them. This depresses you more. You question yourself and every bad choice you ever made. You, unconsciously, block out everything that you have ever done right and if you don’t block it out you know that it was not your own effort (even if that’s not true). Things that usually make you smile are now not interesting. Food doesn’t taste good and you don’t have an appetite anyways. You forget to eat or you use the feeling of hunger to prove to yourself that you are still alive and that you can still feel *something*. You try to force your body to feel things because your have no emotions. You don’t care about hygiene and order anymore. You stink and your place looks like a trash depot. Nothing is interesting and all your problems seem impossible to solve. You are forgetful and tired and people get annoyed at you for it. In return you hate yourself even more.
It is not a choice to feel depressed and it is not simply being sad.
Simply said, if you are depressed, there is nothing that can lift your spirits.
I was depressed for the majority of my life (20 years) and just recently (about two years ago) found ways to detect when I am slipping and to do something against it. Why not earlier? Therapy doesn’t work on me so I needed to work everything out on my own. I had to find my own techniques and I had to study myself a lot.
The first step of this was realizing that depressed is not a state that I want to keep. I didn’t know that I was depressed. I knew I didn’t like how I felt and that not everybody felt that way but I did not know that this can be changed.
If you care deeply about someone who is sincerely depressed:
Try not to force anything on them. Just be available and make clear that you are available. Be there physically. Bring a cake or a book. Offer to listen, to talk, or just to be company. Don’t say “I know what you feel” because it is likely you don’t. Don’t feel sorry for them, just be there. Being there is usually the only thing that you can do. If it is not possible to be there in person, send them a text, call them. Anything, just make yourself available.
If you are depressed:
I know how difficult it is to open up even to your best friend. Just let them be with you, it’s for your own good. Make sure you have someone to talk. And if you don’t feel like talking about the cause of your depression, talk about something else. Or just sit there in silence and know that someone is there for you. Don’t be alone in this difficult time, you need someone by your side, even if you are telling yourself that you are strong and you can do it alone. It’s not about being strong or weak. You feel this way and it can go away but you need to be the one working on it to go away.
If you need to talk and you have no one to talk to, you can do one of the following:
- Call a help line, for example:
* AwarenessHelpline in Ireland 1890 303 302
* Breathing Space in Scotland 0800 83 85 87
* Childline in the UK 0800 1111
* Get connected in the UK (young people / free) 0808 808 4994
- Get in touch with me:
If you don’t like to call somewhere, you may send me a message and I will offer you an open and non-judgmental ear.
* Comment here and mention your mail address (I will not publish that comment but simply write back to the mail address you provided)
* Send me a message to clos3rlook <at> gmail <dot> com
If you don’t know what to write, in case you decide to send a message my way, don’t sweat it. A simple “hi” is a great conversation starter ;) I won’t force you to say anything.
Here is the video I was talking about in the beginning: