Having depression is hell but sometimes trying support a sufferer is just as tough...
I'm relatively new to the world of depression but I can confirm that it properly sucks. In the past I've tried to support friends who were suffering with it and if I'm honest it was frustrating, annoying and I just didn't get it. Now I've had my stint as 'that person' it's all fallen into place. Only now do I understand the following:
1: No matter how hard you try you can't cure someone else's depression. You're just along for the ride and have to be the best friend you can be.
2: What someone says and what they actually mean are totally different.
3: People with depression are really fucking good at lying.
4: As a friend you feel like you're pouring all your energy into someone and getting nothing back. That's exactly what's happening! Try not to give up on someone who needs you but don't jeopardise your own well being.
5: Depressed people are flaky as hell, just assume they won’t do anything you have planned. Don't get mad about it.
6: It doesn't feel like it, but they love you so so damn much. They just can't express it.
In bold below are a list of things that I heard from friends who were in a bad place. I believed all of them, possibly because I desperately hoped they were feeling better. Now that I've been through depression and heard those words come out of my mouth I know that what I said, and what I meant were entirely different. I can't speak for everyone with depression but here's a little insight into the meaning behind those phrases from my perspective.
I'm absolutely not fucking fine, I might be dying. Cuddle me.
"No honestly, I'm fine"
See above. Increase the cuddling and possibly add head stroking
"Yeah, I'll see you there"
I 100% won’t see you there. I'm going to bail last minute because I can't face life right now. I still love you, please don't be mad.
"I'm sleeping much better thanks"
Look into my puffy eyes as I slump against this wall. I'm not sleeping, I don't remember what sleep is. I exist in a permanent state of exhaustion. Let's hang out but let's be still and quiet.
"My Whatsapp has been playing up"
Yeah it hasn't. I saw the notifications but I'm ignoring them because I find the idea of messaging exhausting. I might have accidentally clicked it and you've seen it as 'read'. I planned to write back but somehow 2 weeks have passed and I'm getting more stressed every day because I still haven't replied. I really do love you though. Please keep messaging (I still won’t respond but I really appreciate it).
"I'm feeling much better"
I'm not. Actually I feel worse but I'm terrified that you are getting sick of my bullshit and will get bored of trying to care for me. Please don't leave me. Ever.
"Yeah I'm eating well" - Mate, there’s a cheesecake stain on my top right now and I have Dorito crumbs in my (unwashed) hair. I'm either eating nothing or eating absolute junk as when I can be bothered. Thanks for bringing something delicious with a vegetable in it though (also thanks for bringing more Doritios).
"Counselling is actually going really well"
I mean yeah it's probably good to talk. It's emotionally draining though and I don't wanna open Pandora's box right now. Leave me alone, I'll tell you about it when I'm ready.
"The meds are helping"
Well I’m not dead so I suppose anti-depressants are helping, but they aren't magic. Also were you looking at me pityingly when you said meds? I still feel like shit and you have no idea of the side effects! My mouth is always dry and tastes funny. I can't drink alcohol (I still am obviously). I've lost my orgasm (trust me I've hunted for it, it's MIA). You want me to continue? Please don’t mention pills until I announce I’ve decided to wean myself off them without doctor…then you can intervene.
"Shall we open another bottle?"
Let's open all the bottles until we drown in booze. It's nice to feel numb. The hangover and mood altering nature of alcohol will probably tip me over the edge tomorrow but hey, we'll worry about it then. Please say no, save me from myself and make us some hot chocolate!
"No I don't fancy a walk"
I know you Googled 'helping friends with depression' and it suggested fresh air and exercise but could you kindly fuck off. I truly appreciate the thought and I might fancy it soon but in the meantime can we stay here and not move? I'm exhausted and outside is scary! The birds are too noisy and there are other people out there, plus I would have to put clothes on.
"Let's do something fun!"
By 'fun I mean let's do something self-destructive. Have you ever tried heroin? We could try skydiving with a homemade parachute? We could break into a zoo and cuddle the tigers? Or you could wrap me in blanket, quite tightly so it's like a straight jacket, and convince me that watching TV and eating ice cream is 'fun'.
"I'm thinking of getting my hair cut"
Yes I know I hated having a fringe/bang last time but I feel it's time to try it again. Or I could get a tattoo? Yes tattoo seems a better idea. A big one. Dragons are a symbol of strength yeah? Yeah I'm getting a big fuck off dragon tattoo...on my face. Please help. Try to distract me.
"I love you"
I genuinely love you so fucking much it hurts. You are one of the reasons I'm still going. I know I don't show it much recently but if I ever feel better I swear I'll make it up to you. Just keep caring for me please. Thank you for sticking by me because I would really be lost without you.
I know I write about it in a funny way but for me it's the only way I can. Trust me, it's not funny at the time. If ever you're suffering yourself, or suffering because someone you love is hurting, then reach out for help. If there is no one professional or sensible then give me a shout - I'm always happy to chat!