5 Things to Say to Someone Suffering from Depression

For the last six months, I have felt honored to play but a small part in working to #stopthestigma surrounding mental illness. And even though it has taken me 16 years to speak about my own struggles with depression, I know my words have the power to help others, and that, in turn, has helped me.

That said, even though awareness is at an all-time high, it is not easy for most of us with depression to speak about our illness—sometimes due to shame and other times because we simply do not know what to say.

Me: I’m so sad/angry/out of it today.
Friend/Family Member: Why?
Me: I don’t know.
Friend/Family Member: What can I do?
Me: I don’t know.

I get it. I understand why we are reluctant to share our struggles, and I understand why our disease frustrates those around us. There isn’t a blood test that can gauge our moods or any kind of scan that can reveal the effectiveness of our treatment. We simply live in the moment, not knowing where the next might take us—and with no warning when the next wave of depression may finally peak and break.

“Come as you are, as you were…” You know the rest.

I am not a mental health professional, but what I can tell you is that many of us know what we don’t like to hear. We know what makes us want to scream and cry and karate kick people (“It’s okay. Everyone gets depressed,” and, “Oh, but you have so much going for you,” are at the top of my list). We cringe and wonder how people can be so ignorant. Sometimes we wonder how people can be so insensitive. But we don’t ask for what we do need—we only express that which we do not.

Work to own your mental illness, stop the stigma, and help others by joining the #snapshotsforsanity movement.
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