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Pointing Out How 'Good I Have It' Does Not Help With My Depression

I have plenty of things to be happy about, but I still have depression. Unbelievable, right?

Whenever I find myself becoming consumed by depression, there is always some well-meaning person who tries to point out all the good in my life as a feeble attempt to help me “snap out of it.” 

I appreciate what I can only assume is an attempt at brightening my day and showing me it’s not as bad as it seems, but really you only make me feel worse and like I’m a burden.

I am aware of how good things are: I have a great husband, a sweet little girl, a dog that is ecstatic every time he sees me. I am able to stay home with my daughter while working on my masters degree at one of the top programs in the nation. And I live in a nice house, in a safe area and in an era where counseling is literally at my fingertips on my phone.

Yet, still I struggle.

Your comments, said as a means to put things in perspective and to make me feel better, actually achieve the opposite. They make me feel ungrateful for all that I have, like I’m not a good enough wife or mother, and make me feel I need to hide who I am from you. It makes me feel like I have even less control over my thoughts, feelings and emotions and instead fall victim to my struggle in a whole new way.

I appreciate that you want to help me feel better, but there are better ways you can help me.

  1. Just be patient. I take medication, but sometimes it needs time to work. Its job is to fix how my brain works, and that takes time.
  2. If I want to be alone, let me be alone. Sometimes I need time for self-reflection and processing.
  3. Unless I ask, please don’t tell me what pills, books or doctors have helped someone else. Everyone is different and most people go through several treatment options before finding the right one. And even then they may need to change now and then.
  4. Don’t judge me for going to counseling. The very fact that you say to me, “Can’t you just talk to me about it?” shows me you don’t truly understand. In counseling, I can say my thoughts as they come in my head. I don’t have to censor myself or worry about my image. There have been multiple occasions where I have lashed out at my counselor, because that is what I needed at the time. And we’re cool after because he gets it.
  5. Just because I’m depressed doesn’t mean I’m going to kill myself. Trust me, I know the resources that are available. But if you want to check in on me now and then, I’d like that.
  6. The struggle is there most days, sometimes it’s just not as bad. If I’m smiling and laughing, know that I’m either having a good day, or have enough strength to hide the self-doubt and negativity from you at that moment.
  7. You’re important to me and I’m glad I have you. Sometimes all I need is for you to listen and give a sympathetic, “Yeah, that sucks” to what I’m going through. It’s not so much what you say as it is allowing me to get it out.

Depression is a growing epidemic in our country as we take on more stress and there continues to be so much stigma attached to getting help. You can’t fix me, but you can support me on my journey.

Getty Images photo via Big_and_serious