Woman on a swing. Text reads: 21 things people with depression don't want to admit to their friends

21 Things People With Depression Don't Admit to Their Friends

A tragic contradiction of living with depression is while the darkness can make you push people away – it’s also when we need our friends the most. So how do we communicate this? How do we tell our friends what we need when in the thick of it, we might not even know?

To start a conversation about what people with depression need from their friends, we asked people living with depression in our mental health community to share one thing they don’t admit to their friends. Because our friends really do want to support us — and sharing the hard stuff can be a great first step in teaching them how.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “I hurt, every day. And that when I back out of plans or don’t respond to you. It’s not because I want to. It’s because covering up the hurt and sadness I feel every day and painting on a smile is exhausting and takes up all of my energy — so I isolate myself because it’s so much easier… but I would never tell you that!”

2. “I need them. I hate admitting I need help or I need someone, but if it’s one thing I need to survive my depressive episodes, then it’s my friends. Even if we sit in the same room on our phones, their presence is better than nothing.”

3. “I will always have bad days, so please don’t be disappointed when I succumb to the darkness after so many good days. Just support me the way you did at the start and don’t grow impatient with me.”

4. “Every time I pretend to be strong enough and help, everybody else pick up their pieces, and some of my own crack harder and deeper. But I can’t let anyone else help me. Cause I don’t want to be a burden.”

5. “Some days I can’t leave my bed, can’t shower, can’t change my clothes and brush my hair. I’m not gross. I’m not lazy. But I don’t want to be embarrassed because I physically can’t do things that seem so simple and mundane to many people.”

6. “I spend hours in bed daily, unable to force myself to get up and shower. Conquering the day or going to work always seems like getting ready for war.”

7. “My depression makes me feel like I ruin friendships. My friends say they’re there for me, but when I reach out, I feel like I’m being burdensome. Also, I don’t need you to try and ‘fix’ me, but I just need you to sit there in the darkness with me and maybe hold a flashlight or candle until I can hold it myself.”

8. “I need you. I push you away, but it’s not my intention. I may say things I don’t mean. I may seem like I don’t care, but I do. But you need to know, all you can do is hug and try to support me. You can’t cure my depression. I don’t need it. I just need someone to hold my hand and help me get through it. I don’t say it enough, but thank you. And don’t feel guilty, cause you can’t always make it better. Just being there for me shows a lot.”

9. “When I cancel plans, there is no ‘doctor’s appointment’ or ‘poorly baby’ or ‘other plans I forgot about.’ I just can’t face going outside and having to function.”

10. “I wish I was strong enough to admit the real brutality of it so I didn’t have to deal with it alone.”

11. “If I randomly text you, I need you. Even if it’s been months. I seclude myself, but once I initiate something please, please be there for me.”

12. “I don’t want to admit how comfortable I have gotten into it. It is tough trying to crawl out of it as I sit alone, wishing I hadn’t pushed everyone away long ago. It’s easier said than done to reach out and contact you again, as I secretly hope you’d say hi. I don’t want to bother you, I think you’re busy, so I carry on alone, waiting for the next moment of distraction.”

13. “I’m hurting. I feel trapped inside myself and have felt this way for over 10 years. Your words of encouragement, positivity, and advice are all well-intentioned; but just because I shoot down your advice and positivity, doesn’t mean I’m resisting your help. It just means I’ve either tried it already, heard it already, or it just won’t work from prior knowledge.”

14. “I actually do wish I could take you up on your, ‘I’m always here for you if you want to talk’ offers! But I don’t. Because I value your friendship, and I don’t want my depression to enter into it and ruin things. Been there; done that.”

15. “They have saved my life more than they know, and I don’t feel worthy of their love. Or that I can ever repay them. I feel forever in their debt. I’m afraid to share how bad depression and suicidal thoughts are, so I hide it.”

16. “I will always have those dark and twisted thoughts that put me in the hospital and residential treatment. I’m just too afraid to talk about them because I can’t handle losing another friend because of my depression.”

17. “I love and miss them, but sometimes just can’t do things. I can’t put on a happy face and pretend everything is OK when the demons in my head are telling me I’m worthless and nobody cares about me.”

18. “I lie a lot. I’ll never tell them how I actually feel because there are times that when I do show my true feelings it overwhelms them and I’m the one that needs to reassure them . I’ve been dealing with this myself for years so I just want them to live their lives and know I’m OK even if I’m not.”

19. “Almost every time when they have asked me, ‘Are you OK?’ and I’ve answered, ‘Just tired,’ I haven’t been just tired, I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.”

20. “I sometimes have suicidal thoughts. I don’t share that information because I’m not actually suicidal (I never have been, death actually scares me) and I fear people will judge me for it.”

21. “Every time they make a joke about depression or even question if I’m being honest or ‘faking it,’ I can’t help but distance myself further. I don’t want my depression to be my defining ‘trait,’ but I need people I care about to acknowledge and respect such a big part of my life.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

21 Things People With Depression Don't Admit to Their Friends


Hidden Depression

A short film that explains what it’s like to have hidden depression.

I May Not Understand Depression, but My Dad Does

I’m not a psychologist.

I’ll repeat. I am not a psychologist. I took five psychology courses during undergrad: intro, social, abnormal, personality and developmental. Almost enough for a minor, but not enough to change my amateur status. I passed — for the most part — with middling grades in all of the courses except for one (I aced developmental, which I can only attribute to my girlfriend’s insistence I’m still mentally 13-years-old).

I don’t understand depression.

I’m part of the group who haven’t found themselves on the short end of a diagnosis. I don’t – perhaps can’t – understand the struggle of those in the remaining fraction of the populace, because my brain allows me to experience the world “typically” according to the American Psychiatric Association. I can sympathize with their struggle, but that’s all I can do. I can’t live in their world and I can’t will myself into depression any more than they can will themselves out of it.

My father understands depression.

My dad’s understanding of depression was forced upon him. Throughout his teenage years and his adult life, my father experienced the constant specter of depressive thoughts without ever asking Siri about sadness or Googling feelings of worthlessness. He knows what it’s like to sit silently and stare at an opposing wall, wanting only to hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing.

The amplified feeling of hopelessness after a missed promotion. The despair felt after losing a family member. The experience of being unwanted at the end of a failed marriage. He knows these emotions because he lived these emotions.

I may understand the courage it took for him to seek out professional help. I may understand the helplessness he must have felt as we, his sons, constantly came to him for the same advice, the same warmth we had come to expect when his mind wasn’t telling him he was worthless. But I’m not my father and I’m not depressed. I have no idea what his struggle meant to him or how he clawed his way back to stability or how he relives those memories when they creep back into the quiet corners of his day.

When I got a call from him before football practice on a clear September day in 2006, right before I exchanged my sneakers for cleats, I didn’t have the therapeutic “know-how” to respond appropriately to his matter-of-fact presentation of the reasons he was getting a divorce. I couldn’t bring him closure with words and I wasn’t going to find a cognitive technique to remove the negativity from his inner monologue. If you had asked me about the DSM, I would have told you I didn’t really use drugs.

I didn’t have a plan. What I had was a car, an unsettled teenage brain and a perfect excuse to not participate in conditioning drills. So I swapped back to sneakers, told my coach there was an emergency and tried to drive home in a panic to figure out what was happening to the family I thought would weather the storm.

I don’t always make the right decision.

The next time I saw my father, he was standing next to my bed at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania after I had fallen asleep behind the wheel and gotten myself into a head-on wreck. By some divine providence, everyone walked away from it uninjured. He was the man I had known all my life. He wasn’t any less a victim of depression, nor was he any less getting a divorce. He was my father and I knew that would never change. I would always be his son. We were bonded by something larger than a few misplaced chemicals or broken receptors.

We didn’t talk about depression or divorce that night. We didn’t talk about the wreck, either. We went to Chick-fil-A and talked about how they had figured out the exact blend of three or four ingredients that comprised a perfect chicken sandwich. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a milkshake as much as the one he bought for me while I was still wearing my CHOP wristband and IV-induced Band-Aid.

I don’t need to make the right decision every time.

Like most, I still argue with my dad sometimes. He’s eternally risk-averse and gets upset when I let my car rack up an extra 3,000 miles beyond the point where I should have gotten an oil change (Dad, if you’re reading this, I scheduled it for tomorrow, just like the last three times I told you I scheduled it for tomorrow).

But when he was at his lowest points, it didn’t matter I occasionally spent weekends in college drinking Lionshead out of a week-old keg and playing Borderlands with my roommates instead of figuring out how to write a basic proxy server in an archaic programming language. What mattered was I called and told him I could talk whenever he was up to it. What mattered was I made enough time in my day to remember that, while he was fighting a battle on his own, my dad was more than his depression and he had a support network to remind him in case he ever forgot.

My dad doesn’t see his therapist anymore and he no longer fills a prescription for antidepressants. It’s fairly clear he’s doing better now by all outside measures. I never figured out how he beat it – nor do I think I’ll ever figure out how he beat it – but I can tell he’s not fighting just to be normal anymore.

I still don’t really understand depression.

If my life depended on it, I couldn’t treat someone’s depression on my own any more than I could perform facial reconstruction surgery or operate a garbage truck. I’d just take a mess and make it even worse. I’m trying to educate myself on symptom recognition, negative patterns of thinking and proven techniques to help counsel those in need of immediate assistance. Even still, I don’t have the training and am only now finding the resources such as NAMI, Challenge the Storm and The Mighty to help me acquire the tools to help people like my father, to help people in need.

After all, I’m not a psychologist.

I’m someone’s son and someone’s support.

And maybe that’s all I need to be.

Originally published on and submitted on behalf of Challenge the Storm.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock

A tweet that reads: It's like trying to swim to the surface from the bottom of a murky pool but never reaching it

23 Tweets That Perfectly Describe the Reality of Depression

Because it can be hard to describe what depression is like in real life, #ThisIsWhatDepressionFeelsLike is inviting people to share the experiences on Twitter. Using the hashtag — an offshoot of #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike — people have been having honest conversations about the harsh reality of living with depression. Their descriptions are powerful, and a reminder that however dark it might get, you’re never alone.

Here are some of the tweets that resonated with us:



































Of course, not everyone experiences depression in the same way. If none of these resonated with you, how would you describe what depression feels like? Let us know in the comments below.

A colorful image of a woman dancer

I Am Not My Depression, I Am My Fight

Am I my depression? That is a question that is haunting me tonight. I have been on break, and depression has really colored my week. The deep set heaviness made “fun things” completely exhausting. Being out of my routine ruined my ability to mentally prepare for the expectations of others.

Perhaps it seems dramatic to make this a question of identity, but it is one of the two most impactful things in my life right now. It changes my decisions, my engagement with life and my self-perception. I keep trying out different descriptions about how my depression relates to me to see which one fits.

Maybe depression is a part of me. But then, it is the part of me that I hate. It becomes a personal flaw in my makeup. Or maybe I must accept and embrace it. Be OK with the place I’m at right now. Be OK with the situation that triggered my depression. I would need to look at the silver linings and all the things I’ve learned, and decide they are worth the continued, sometimes intolerable, psychological pain.

And there are moments when I think it’s all that I am. It consumes every thought. It makes me question everything about my previous identity — my competence, skills, personality and even my faith. The depression tells me that it is all that I have and the only way out is to escape.

Next, I try to look at it through a logical lens. What is the science behind it? From that perspective, I would have to say it is an illness. Its cause is likely multifaceted. So my depression boils down to a list of symptoms. But does it make a difference when some of those symptoms are emotional or behavioral?

I think back to those moments where I was at my worst. Moments when I truly thought I didn’t want to live anymore. And, I begin to see a pattern. I feel worthless and undeserving. The depression is dragging me down and fear makes it hard to breathe.

But I reach out.

I may not directly ask for help, but I let someone know that I’m not doing well. When depression leads to suicidal ideation, the person that I am, the person within me reaches out. Even when the pain felt unbearable, there was always a part of me fighting to live.

I am not my depression, I am my fight.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Depression Made Me Believe People-Pleasing Was Love

I have been in love many times in my life. I have fallen hard and I have fallen fast. Unfortunately the “me” who was in love all those times wasn’t really me. I have come to learn — with the help of a very special person — that what I had wasn’t love. My depression and anxiety have impacted a lot of aspects of my personality, but I think the most damaging thing they have done is make me a people-pleaser.

The “me” that was in love all those times wasn’t really me. Yes, that person had my face. She had my laugh and smile but not the real emotions that went with them. I’ve come to learn the girl who was in love was nothing but a copy of me. This copy may have looked like me, but inside she was whatever her partner wanted her to be. I dated a guy who loved guns, so I magically became OK with them. I dated a hardline conservative and slowly my views shifted. They hated cats so I gradually stopped liking cats. All the while I would smile and tell people I was in love. I really did think I was at the time, but when the relationships ended, I would have a moment of devastation and then move on. Sometimes the devastation was longer than others because I really did care about each and every one of them, but it was not love.

The thing I realized is I never felt the real me deserved love. I always felt I had to hold things back or change things about myself in order to be loved. This is where the people-pleasing came in. If I wanted love or acceptance, I would have to prove myself to people. I would have to be what they wanted. In truth, I must have been the “perfect” girlfriend because I accepted every flaw in each partner and more than that, I altered myself to match their desires.

It is only after my most recent breakup that I have made all of these realizations. After this breakup, I saw what real love was. I saw the way my first boyfriend and longtime friend stood by me. I began to see how I never felt I had to hide things around him. He knew every part of me I had deemed awful, unloveable and shameful and yet he still loved me. It is because of him that I know what love is. I may still be fighting against people-pleasing in other aspects of my life, but at least now I know what real love looks like. Love is unconditional and constant.

 You can follow this journey on TranQool’s blog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Max5799.

Real People. Real Stories.

150 Million

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.