I want to start off by saying that I've never been diagnosed with depression, but I’ve had moments in my life where I was sad. The difference is that I'm generally upbeat and can easily pull myself out of a funk. That’s not so easy for people who are actually diagnosed with depression and face sadness and loneliness on a regular basis.
After hearing about my friends’ experiences overcoming or dealing with depression, I decided to collect what I’ve learned and share it with you. It’s likely that there is someone in your social circle or family who is also going through depression. My hope is that this article can spark a conversation, rather than claim to have all the answers in a nutshell.
Depression Is More Complicated than You Think
We all have all likely felt sadness, loneliness, anger, self-doubt, or despair. However, most of us can tie these feelings to a specific event in our lives: the end of a relationship, betrayal, loss of a job, or a miscarriage, just to name a few. It’s a lot easier for the general population to get out of a funk because we have a good idea of how we got there.
However, many people with depression notice the symptoms of depression and think, “I’m back in a depression cycle again.” A real life event didn’t necessarily trigger it.
Depression can also feel like a cycle of physical and mental anguish. Many people with depression likely know how to temporarily get out of their funk but feel like they physically can’t do it. It becomes a vicious cycle of “I know I need help, but I feel totally unworthy of anyone’s help, time, or love.”
Overall, it’s hard to pinpoint what causes depression, thus it’s hard to stop it or fix it. It can be frustrating to watch someone go through depression, but the solutions that work for you may not work easily or quickly for them. Telling someone to“get over it” is often not the tough love they need.
Depression Doesn’t Have a Cure-All Solution
For some people, telling them to rely on Christ, read scriptures, pray, and attend church might not feel like enough. It can sound more like, “Figure this out with someone else, not me.” These activities help people overcome trials, but it’s not simple for those with clinical depression. These spiritual activities will help once coupled with other solutions, such as therapy, proper medication, and support from friends and family.
Remember as you reach out to your friends that they need help—but not always the help you think is best. My favorite adage is “kindness unwanted is unkindness,” and I’ve used it in other topics on She Traveled. The things you do to be happier will work for you but won’t always work for them.
Thus, the ultimate advice I can share is understand their needs and do what you can to fill them. Let them set the terms of how often you spend time together, and believe them if they say therapy or medication isn’t working. Help them find ways that will actually help them, and be there for them every step of the way.
You Can Offset Depression With Genuine Friendship
Most friends I know who go through depression can agree that what they often need is a steady, genuine friend. A depressed person doesn’t ever want to feel like a burden or a “project.”
What does it take to be a genuine friend? It takes a lot of patience and love. A major part of being depressed, I’ve noticed, is that the person uses a lot of energy to pretend that they are not depressed. They want others to think they are social, happy, and otherwise on top of things. They need someone to be real with.
This does require boundaries on your part; it takes a lot of energy to always be there for someone with depression. Setting boundaries that ensures you maintain your physical and mental strength while trying to also continue living your own life.
Learn More Through Good Conversations
This post will hopefully be a starting point. I hope you’ve learned a bit from my simple experiences. However, take this to the next step by listening to those who actually have clinical depression and learn from them. Rather than waiting for someone else to “fix” your friend or family member, hear about their experiences and what they need to feel better.
In fact, start the conversation now: based on your experience, what can you do to help end the stigma against mental illness as a whole? Share with us in the comments or over social media.
Interested in learning more about depression and how you can have a better understanding of it? Check out these articles on the She Traveled blog: