5 Things Not To Say To Someone Suffering From Depression
Just please don’t.
This mental health awareness month we are sharing personal stories from several of our writers – to destroy the dangerous silence around the issue. This is Ailaa's story:
It is already hard enough to go through any type of mental disorder, and the harshest and most critical person in most situations is often the one suffering. So the least that you can do, as a friend, a partner, or just as a human being in general is to be compassionate and supportive of others. Here are five things not to say to someone suffering from depression — really, you would be doing us and yourself a favor. Some might seem obvious, but some people say them anyway.
"You don’t look depressed."
And what exactly is the look of depression? Do you imagine us just walking around in our pajamas everywhere all the time? Well we might — but we often try to seem as put together as possible, because it could be a way to escape or just a decision that today, we are going to put on pants, look great and hit town. I think I wore my best outfits during my lowest psychological state just to hide what I was going through.
"I think you are exaggerating."
Well, a) My depression is not your op-ed and b) Kindly keep your thoughts to yourself. Talking about one´s hardships and inner complexes is never easy, and mental disorders aren't yet taken seriously enough by society. So if talking to you will make the person feel ashamed about their situation by making them think “Oh, what if I am really exaggerating and it's all in my head?” or making them feel like they're not being heard or understood at all, you are aggravating the situation and making the person think 100 times more than before they decided to open up to you about what they are going through.
"Everyone feels depressed from time to time."
Maybe they are, but this is not a competition, and even if it was I don’t think we would want to be winning here. Many suffer in silence, so if you are suffering as well let´s talk about it and help each other out or seek help from a professional instead.
"Others have it worst."
How is that going to help me feel any better? It actually might make me feel worse. And maybe some do have it worse, you think we do not know this? Depression is not something that we choose to have. Pain and hardships are relative, they really are. As Laura said in the movie Life Happens, “I am not saying that my problems are as serious as yours […] but everything is relative.”
"Just cheer up."
Omg! Thank you, you have just saved us all! I wish it was that easy, but there is no switch that we can turn on and off, and in most situations we would choose to turn feelings off because we feel horrible. Suggest ways that could cheer us up rather than just saying "Just cheer up."
The rule still applies: If you have nothing nice to say, then you shouldn't say anything at all. Be a source of help and support rather than pain. Your words have a huge impact, probably more than you can imagine, so be kind.