When Emotionally Healthy People Tell You How Not to be Depressed
“There is no standard normal. Normal is subjective. There are seven billion versions of normal on this planet.”- Matt Haig
I have set ringtones for contacts in my cellphone. This allows me to choose who I answer the phone for because chances are if I’m not related to you I’m not answering. It’s not because I dislike you. It’s because I feel depressed and within that depression I have zero desire to chit chat.
Yes, I’m one of those. Leave me be. Don’t talk to me.
If I’m related to you our conversation would go similar to this conversation I had with a loved one yesterday. She and I hadn’t spoken at all in days which is unusual for us. At the very least we’ll send a text. She was recovering from a four day headache stretch. She called me because she knew she could just say it and vent without me trying to fix it or make suggestions on what to do .
OMG, I said. Or how people try to tell you what you should do to get it to go away and you’re all like, fuck me as if you haven’t tried that already.
I can totally relate to her experience because emotionally healthy people tell me how to not be depressed and here’s the thing, when they do I kind of feel like #FML.
I think it’s challenging, almost impossible for someone who doesn’t experience what I do, to understand what I’m feeling. People experience things differently and each experience is unique to that person. Yet I find that all too often, those who are emotionally healthy tend to tell me how not to be depressed.
Yes, I eat healthy. Yes, I exercised today. Yes, I wrote. Yes, I read. Yes, I meditated.
Yes, I tried the most common recommendation of, “just stop being depressed!”
Yes, I tried “snapping out of it” and, “If you’re unhappy with something then change it!”
Huh. Why didn’t I think of that?
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Erika Sauter, mad not-scientist changes chemicals in her brain and is no longer genetically predisposed to experience Bipolar Disorder because it’s THAT easy to change what causes her unhappiness! She is a fucking superstar! What a break through!
BTW, I’m not unhappy. I’m drifting through the motherfucking sad. These are two entirely different things. Unhappiness is an emotion. The motherfucking sad is a state of being.
Yes, I talked to someone (that doesn’t experience depression and was rather dismissive). Yes, I got out into the community. Yes, I spent time with my family. Yes, I forced myself to push on.
Yes, I faked it so you wouldn’t notice.
I know these ideas and suggestions are out of love, genuine concern and care. I’m immensely grateful. In a sense, even when I may feel as if I’m merely a shell of a person, when emotionally healthy people tell me how not to be depressed it means I’m still a person to them.
I think about what it must feel like for them to see their mother, father, daughter, son, wife, husband, sister, brother, best friend, neighbor or second cousin suffering. So trying, fearful, heartbroken. She’s/ he’s ill, they’ll say in a tone similar to the one they use after watching some random person freak out on a cashier.
The worst part, there is no cure. So, no need to try to cure me. It would be way more productive if you try to accept it. I accept it.
I know how I must appear to people right now. I’ve shaved all my hair off. My clothes are baggy but if I’m being honest with myself and you, my pajamas. I’m crawling with anxiety and it was just too much to collect myself enough to leave the house today. I contemplated it several times but, meh.
I forgot to eat.
I wake at night hours before the sun, sit in the dark with my ideas stirring and brewing while I doodle and try to make sense of it all.
I know. I do. I promise, and hey. Awareness is key.
Depression is similar to substance abuse in the sense that you relapse. No matter how hard you try, no matter how strong willed you are, no matter what route you take, no matter how deep into your recovery you may be there is always a relapse.
I have a coping toolbox stuffed with skills and mechanisms. Each time I open it I have to puzzle it back together and squish it down with all my might to latch it closed again. I may appear as if I’m drowning and feel as if I’m drowning but I assure you, I’m doing my best right now. Depression won’t beat me.
All this means is that your fight looks different than my fight. All that matters is that I’m fighting.
What I don’t need is emotionally healthy people telling me how not to be depressed. I’ve been living with depression for over two decades. We’re old friends and I get that you’re a part of my life too but what I really need from you is to just be there for me, silently.
At most all I need you to say is, I’m sorry you’re feeling shitty today.
I’m a writer and an artist. You can check out my work here on Medium.