There is nothing more frustrating than going through a bout of depression. It’s like an inner battle within your mind between the light and the dark with no apparent victor in sight. The mind jumps to crazy and atypical solutions to fix your illogical mental thought processes. What’s worse is when you reach out to people during this struggle which you have no control over, they typically shout out generic advice and brush you off because they’re too busy with their own lives and think that you’re just sad and over exaggerating. “Keep busy!”, or “Why don’t you try some yoga?”, or, “Drink some tea and distract yourself, that always works for me.”
What most people don’t understand is the amount that people with depression are actually suffering and why they are reaching out. It’s hard enough for people to reach out when they’re upset or going through a hard time in society today. Everywhere you look, society is bombarded through various forms of media, praising happy people. That might sound odd, but if you pay attention you’ll realize that everything is focused around happy people making the most out of their lives either by scoring their dream job, traveling around the world, or landing that perfect spouse and producing the perfect children. These are models for us average everyday people, this is who we are “supposed to be” and who we should aim to be.
But realistically, people and their lives come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Most people don’t fit the mold, and while some embrace being a square peg in a round hole, there are others who feel an immense pressure and distress towards societies representation of normal.
Think about it — we live in an individualistic society that focuses on people and their individual lives, while also maintaining a pack mentality. It’s all about finding yourself, doing you, finding your inner Zen amidst the chaos of the bustling world. But at the same time that we are supposed to be different from our peers, we are in conflict with a society that sets strict boundaries on how much deviance is acceptable. It’s utterly confusing and overwhelming. In this world where apparently being a lone wolf reigns supreme, most people are simply unique members of a common and diverse pack. For the true loner, when trouble arises and they ask for help, they’re treated as truly deviant — contagiously ill and only supported with the barest survival needs.
In a world where everything says we should be happy, it would take the average person nerves of steel to explain, “No, I’m not just ‘upset’, or ‘having a bad day’ and no a cup of tea won’t help.” How do you tell someone that you’ve spent the last six hours curled up in a ball crying on the bathroom floor, or spent the last four days in bed under a dark ominous cloud without looking like a complete loon and losing a little dignity? It shouldn’t be this way, but this is how society makes us feel about confronting real psychological issues because hey! Apparently being happy isn’t that hard, just do these three steps and every day will be filled with kittens and rainbows and good vibes.
The way people lightly throw around phrases such as, “oh, I’m so depressed,” or, “I have so much anxiety” leads to a sort of fluffing around the edges of real psychological disorders. This also leads to a harsher judgement upon people who actually suffer from them. When someone experiences a real anxiety attack or bout of depression versus the typical amount of pre-test anxiety or coping with the loss of a job, these people are typically stigmatized and greeted with eye-rolls when in fact these behaviors are mostly out of their control.
Yes, people with depression know that they can’t lay in bed for the rest of their lives. And yes, people with depression know that eventually their bodies will run out of tears and that once you hit rock bottom emotionally there is nowhere else to go but up. But these people reach an emotional rock bottom more often than you think. They aren’t reaching out to you because they need generic advice, in that emotional darkness generic advice is more frustrating than anything because surprise, these people want to be happy.They want to be happy but sometimes their disorder gets in the way. Most of the time, they can’t even figure out or explain the dark turmoil of emotions coursing inside of them. They just need to know that someone is there on the outside holding a life vest, a piece of rope, anything to serve as a beacon or something to grasp onto in their seemingly endless gloom.
So have a little patience, and realize that these people are truly suffering and trying to conquer their demons. Also know that they are going to be okay in a few hours, or a few days or sometimes a few months. Know that your presence means the world to them even if they can’t express it, and in their darkest moments your mere presence is their light.