In recent years, the stigma surrounding mental health has begun to decline. More and more people are coming forward with their own experiences dealing with mental health issues. This is an incredible feat, but how do we react when people we are close to tell us that they have depression? It is often hard to know what to say. All you want to do is to make it disappear somehow, to make their suffering go away. The hard truth is that you can't. Depression is not something that you can just wish away. But, there are ways that you can help. You can be there for them, listen to them when they need someone to talk to about how they're feeling, and you can also offer them some reassuring words that they are going to be alright. Whether it's you or someone close to you who is living with this awful mental illness, here are 10 things you/ they may need to hear...
1. Despite what your illness is telling you, you are not crazy and you are not alone.
Depression has this incredible knack of trying to convince its occupants that they are completely crazy for their existential thinking patterns and that everyone else around them is just breezing through life, carpeing the diem and not thinking about the big F word (The Future). This is not true. Do not believe anything your illness tells you. Most people will go through mental health issues at some stage in their life.
2. The world is beautiful- and you know it.
Your depression will tell you that life and everything in it is pointless and arbitrary. Deep down, you know this is not true. You have seen the beauty in living before and you will see it again.
3. You are stronger than you know.
You may think that you don’t have the strength to defeat your illness but trust me, you do. You CAN do it and you WILL get better. Positive affirmation is always helpful in times of hardship and self-doubt.
4. You are important because you exist.
Depression can often attack the way in which we think about our self-worth and our sense of purpose in the world. You don’t have to make this massive worldwide mark on the world to matter. You matter because you are here and you have already impacted so many people’s lives positively just by being you. Whether it’s your friends, your family, your co-workers or your bae- there are people in this world who love you and need you and their world wouldn't be the same without you in it.
5. You are in control.
Although it may feel like the demons in your mind feeding you their negative thoughts have a complete hold on you, they don’t. You have the power to banish the negative thoughts as soon as they enter your mind. Shut the door on them before they have the chance to infiltrate your soul.
6. You are not a burden.
Please don’t neglect talking to your friends or family about your depression because you don’t want to upset them or “bring the mood down”. You are never a burden to them. Your friends and family love you and will want to help you in any way they can. If you really don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family however, for whatever reason, there are always counsellors that you can speak to about how you are feeling. It’s important to seek professional support from a counsellor or psychologist as even if you do talk to your friends/family, while they can offer an empathetic ear to your pain, a trained psychologist can properly assess you and offer up solutions to cope with your mental illness.
7. You are not a bad friend/sibling/son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend/person.
You are not selfish for looking after your mental health and engaging in self-care. The people who love you and care about your well-being will not judge you for taking time out to nourish your mind and soul back to health. But remember, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself. Forcing yourself to get out of bed and meet up with friends may just be the boost you need. Just do whatever feels right for you and never feel guilty for having a mental illness; you don’t hear people apologising for having the flu so don’t apologise for having depression.
8. End the cycle.
Depression can be a spiral of negativity which feeds into itself and fuels the inferno of mental illness. People with depression often get into the mind-set that they will never be free from the shackles of their mental illness which constrains them but these thoughts need to be nipped in the bud as soon as they begin to sprout. If you are constantly thinking and reaffirming that you will never get better, there is no way that you can. Your negative approach to getting better will restrict you from progressing on your path to recovery. So, end the cycle. You CAN get better- not only CAN you get better, but you WILL get better.
9. A bad time, not a bad life.
Of course, you'll have setbacks and it’s not going to be easy but there will come a time when you will look back at the times you said that you would never get through this and you will be able to say that you did. There was a time before you lived with severe depression and there will be a time after. It takes time but your depression will become less intense. If you're having a bad day mentally, remember that it is a bad day or a bad week or even a bad month but it’s not a bad life and you will get through these dark thoughts/feelings and you will have so many moments of happiness that will be worth living for.
10. You've got this.
You are a badass warrior and you can defeat the monsters that inhabit your mind. So, prepare for battle and fight for the life that you deserve. You can do this.
Video: Fighting Depression in COLLEGE: my experience, tips & advice
Credit: Makayla Samountry