Saturday, 22 February 2014

4 things you should never say to a depressed person (and 5 things you can do to help)

It's been rough these past few days but I can say that I'm a lot better and my heart is lighter than it is heavy. I'm so thankful for everyone who showed up on my last post and left me kind, encouraging comments. Thankful for the people who amaze me by showing up here everyday (on hard days, thinking of you keeps me going. Thank you!)
Staying true to my promise to blog through life, I'm sharing the things I wished people never said to me and the ways that some legitimately helped. Arranged in order of importance, here are the top 4 things you should never say to a depressed person.
  • You’ll be fine

I found this to be the most annoying statement ever. Also struggling for first place are its variants “It is well” or “God is in control”. The last thing a depressed person wants to hear is that he/she will be fine eventually. Though it is an attempt to make said person feel better, it does not reduce the heavy pain they feel at the moment and it’s easy for them to resent you because they feel you are trying to make their pain/trouble seem insignificant when it is not. So please, never ever say this. If you don’t know how to comfort but really want to do something to help, give them a hug/squeeze their hand/kiss them on the forehead/be silent with them.
  • Is that all?

When your depressed friend is finally vulnerable with you about how they feel the second worst thing you can say to them is number 2. For someone to be so crushed by depression, surely whatever they have confessed is the reason (or are the reasons) are significant to them. On no grounds should you try to make them feel ridiculous because of what they have told you. No crab or turtle could retreat back into its shell faster than anyone you ask “Is that all?”
  • Why don’t you just snap out of it?

Depression is not Candyland or Disneyland. If a depressed person could “snap out of it” they would do it the minute they felt the slightest weight of depression. So, for clarity, depressed people do not know how to “snap out of it”. What they feel is not a vision or trance or hallucination that they can just break out of. What they feel is raw and legitimate and real. Do not ever ask this question. Ever
  • What are you going to do now?

Really? This question can drive the weakest to suicide. It’s glaring that they don’t know what to do to make the depression go away. The effect of you asking and vocalizing their biggest fear is crushing. They are in a dark spiral downward and do not know what to do. Do not ask them what they are going to do.

So what can you do to help depressed folk, you ask. I say:

1. Pray for them—don’t just say you will and never get round to doing it.
2. Let them vocalize their biggest fears and let them know that their weakness is safe with you.
3. As much as you can give them advice that you would find helpful if you were in their shoes.

4. Check on them often as it is easy to feel loneliness while depressed. And let them know that you love and care for them
5. Find them a therapist/counsellor

Anything you think I might have left out? Share it with me in the comment box!

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  1. I will try to be very honest with you, my first suicide attempt was because someone said to me "is that all?" As I drank the pills and felt life seeping away from me, I replied and said yes that's all.

    1. Glad you are still here, alive and fighting depression. Praying for you right now