Depression diagnoses are increasing at an alarming rate worldwide and in my plight to raise awareness for not just depression, but all metal health issues, and with mental health month just around the corner, I want to share with you two of the most detrimental things you can say to someone with depression.
This phrase is doing so much more damage than you realise. A person with depression would love nothing more than to ‘cheer up’. They would also love nothing more than to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘ just smile’. Can you imagine what it is like to be so completely consumed by darkness and despair, to be so incredibly numb, to be so utterly hopeless that you can’t even drag yourself out of bed in the morning? The thought of getting into the shower feels like such a mammoth task and going outside to walk alongside other people makes you so anxious you feel sick to your stomach. Your throw away comment is just confirming everything they were fearful of, that you’ve noticed that they don’t feel the as happy as you and you simply don’t understand. They are probably wishing they didn’t go through the hell of getting out of bed at all.
Next time, instead of telling someone to cheer up, why don’t you ask them how you can help them to feel better? Perhaps, you will be met with “you can’t” or maybe, just maybe they will seek your support and ask that you go on a walk with them, listen to their favourite music, or simply that you just ‘be there’ for them without judging, who knows? Either way, the response will be so much more constructive than the way “cheer up” will leave them feeling.
“What do you have to feel sad about?”
Depression is real and it is happening and the sooner people wise up to the fact the better the world will be. Depression does not discriminate. The poor, the wealthy, the young, the old, the beautiful and the famous can all fall victim to the clutches of depression but who the hell are you to judge whether someone has the right to feel sad or not!?
You don’t have to fully understand it, but you do have to open your mind to that fact that some people do feel sad and worthless for no reason and refrain from making judgments on it. Try to put yourself in that persons shoes and imagine how you would feel…. This is called empathy. The world would be a much better place if there was more of it!