Thursday, June 3, 2010

This seems helpful...

Sometimes people seem to think that they don't want to share something for fear of bringing others down. And I guess that there is a time and a place for everything... For me, this includes a place for difficulty. It's a part of truth, right? A happy veneer on a repressed reality isn't fun for anybody, it only streamlines business interactions, but it stifles the heart.

In a quest for being honest with my reality, I have taken the risk of sharing my struggle a few times... Mostly what I've gotten back is blankness. Sometimes I have received downright rejection. And there is the hurtful quick-change to a cheery subject--nice day, isn't it? Then there has also been a cherished caring listener here and there. Thank you friends!

Just to get back to it... There is nothing more isolating than being ignored. What's weird is that someone can look into your eyes and ignore you. Sometimes people are just too busy or self-absorbed to listen to another person, especially when that person is carrying difficulty. We want things to be nice and easy. But things aren't always nice or easy. And it hurts me when someone spits back the story of my words with a cheerful spin, when what is happening is hard for me. I have my truth, and I'm trying to share it with you. I'm taking a chance, and trying to trust. Of course there is a bright side and a learning piece for every difficulty, and I pray to see that. But there are times when experience is difficult.

This list was passed along by a friend (that I will leave unnamed). It is called 10 Things to Say (and 10 Not to Say) to Someone With Depression. And I think that these might be helpful tips for supporting anyone experiencing difficulty, whether it's a bad day or worse...

Say this:

1. You're not alone in this.
2. You are important to me.
3. Do you want a hug?
4. You are not going mad.
5. We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.
6. When all this is over, I'll still be here and so will you.
7. I can't really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.
8. I'm not going to leave you or abandon you.
9. I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.)
10. I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don't need to worry that your pain might hurt me.

Don't say this:

1. There's always someone worse off than you are.
2. No one ever said that life was fair.
3. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
4. So you're depressed. Aren't you always?
5. Try not to be so depressed.
6. It's your own fault.
7. I think your depression is a way of punishing us.
8. Haven't you grown tired of all this "me, me, me" stuff yet?
9. Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.
10. Have you tried chamomile tea?

* These lists are found on

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Vegan Burnout said...

So true, and so timely for me, too. It's terrible to have to teach someone how to comfort you, isn't it? When I'm hurting, the last thing I want is to tell someone that his/her help is all wrong. As awful as it sounds, I think that dealing with anxiety and depression has made me more compassionate. I don't know that I'm too happy with that trade, but I'll use what I've got. Namaste.

YogaforCynics said...

Great lists.

The "somebody worse off thing" has always seemed particularly strange to me--like, I'm already depressed, and somebody thinks they're gonna cheer me up by pointing out that there's a whole world of human suffering out there?!

I think some people are just very uncomfortable with the deep-painful-stuff kind of conversation. Certainly, I have friends who have shown me lots of love over the years been there 100% in a crisis, but, in terms of bringing up how lonely I've been feeling over just feels kinda scary or something to them. So, basically, I do think that "the quick-change to a cheery subject" can be less rejection of you than of their own fear.

Frenzy36 said...

I kind of agree with YogaforCynics. We all aren't trained Psychologists and sometimes you get caught off guard by someone's confession. However we can all get better at helping eachother and the only way that occurs is through awareness, practise, and of course true compassion.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, during the depths of my own depression, I used to beat myself over the head with many of those things you shouldn't say to someone who is depressed.

And I really think people don't realise how hurtful it can be to ignore the emotional pain someone else is in.

Just last night I was having an IM chat with a very good friend of mine in Sydney. She recently read most of my blog after I'd sent her there to look at the post where I wrote about running into the guy who assaulted me. And she was really upset because she says she didn't realise how bad it was for me, and she felt like she'd been very dismissive.

But I explained to her that she and another one of my girlfriends were the most empathetic and willing to listen out of any of my friends. And that I'd been very thankful for how much she had been open to talking about it with me.

I just really think people don't get it. I mean, if they haven't suffered through debilitating depression or another mental health issues, then how could they really get it?

Lately, I've taken to being more open with people about what I went through. Of course, not talking about all the gory details but letting them know that yeah, I had depression and PTSD and it was the lowest point in my life.

I think what is important is that we don't ignore ourselves. We are the ones that need to do the work to get better, right? We have to pay attention to our own hearts first...

Elize said...

I hear you, Brooks.