How to Support Me When I Tell You I’m Struggling
I am struggling.
I have dealt with depression for years. In that time, I have experienced wonderful highs and terrible lows. The last couple months have been pretty low. I typically don’t share these feelings publicly, however I’m realizing more now that people don’t really know what to do when you tell them you’re struggling.
When I tell you I’m going through a hard time, please don’t try to relate to me by telling me your problems. I know that may sound harsh or hypocritical. I promise you I care very deeply about what you’re going through, but I’m trying to say I am having a hard time dealing with my own problems. I don’t have the strength right now to take on other problems as well. And this can also make me feel as though my problems don’t matter. That I don’t matter.
When I tell you I’m going through a hard time, please don’t be frustrated with me. I’m frustrated enough with myself. And I feel a deep sense of guilt for even sharing that I’m struggling in the first place. Maybe you don’t know what to say to help, and that’s OK. But getting frustrated will only make me feel worse. My depression isn’t about you, it’s about me. And I promise you I feel bad enough so please, think before you react. Don’t speak to me like I’m “crazy” or annoying. I can assure you I already feel that way, and I don’t need anyone else to make me feel any worse
Here’s what you can do. Tell me you’re here for me. Tell me I matter to you. Tell me I’m important to you. Ask me what you can do to help make me feel better, if that’s something you feel like you can do. Treat me with a little extra kindness. Say something nice. Give me a hug. Check in on me from time to time, and really listen to what I’m telling you. Do or say something small to show me you care.
Lastly, this is just my experience. Everyone’s experience with mental illness is unique. The ways in which you can show me support might not be the way that someone else would want to be supported. But even the simple act of asking how you can best offer support might be monumental for someone who is struggling.
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Thinkstock photo by Grandfailure