4 Ways You Can Help Me When I'm in a Depressive Episode
I can feel it creeping up on me again. I can sense its huge form behind me, feel its breath on my back and shoulders, rising up to my neck. I can hear it whisper in a rasping voice, “It’s my turn now.” I drop. I sink in to myself, sink in to my own head and depression rises to take my place. It wears me as a disguise to fool others into thinking they are speaking with me. I’m inside there somewhere but you’re not going to find me. I don’t think I even want you to.
When I sink into a depressive episode, I lose myself. I lose all feeling, motivation, all interest in who I am and sometimes in who everyone else is. When an episode is particularly difficult, the only way I can feel something is to sink lower. I give up, I listen to the negative voices, I let them get louder, I let them speak for me. I begin to believe nothing is worth anything and that my identity is not worth saving. It wasn’t worth its existence in the first place.
So how can you help me when I am so encapsulated in the void? How do you penetrate layers upon layers of apathy and misery? Everyone is different — some people take medication, others have therapy and some shy away from both. However, there are definitely some things you can do to remind me of who I am and to help me to remember I am a person, I am not depression.
1. Ask me if I am OK.
And don’t lose patience when you receive an honest answer. We get into such a cycle of saying we are “fine” when we are actually far from it. By asking me how I am and wanting and accepting an honest answer, it will make me feel as if I can tell you what is going on — this can often be half the battle. Please be patient with me. Nothing is worse than people who stop asking how you are because they are fed up with you answering honestly.
Sometimes all you want to do is get all the negativity out of your head. You’re so familiar with the thoughts that you don’t truly hear them. Saying them out loud can often force you to actually understand what you are saying and realize the thoughts aren’t actually yours — they are the lies depression is telling you to keep you hidden. Sharing these with someone who is willing to listen (even if they don’t understand) can be a safe way to come to this realization.
3. Tell me I am strong.
Battling a mental illness can often leave me feeling weak and vulnerable. I feel as if I’m broken and unworthy — as if there is a bit missing in your head that renders you a burden to those around you. By reminding me that struggling with depression makes me strong for battling the same demons on a daily basis, you’re helping me to slowly shift my view. It might not work immediately, but it has helped me to stop seeing myself as a victim and more of a survivor in the long-term.
4. Be patient.
I’m in here somewhere. I’m not doing this to hurt you or anyone else. I just can’t manage to stay afloat. If you stick around and see me on the other side, I will never forget it and I will never cease to be grateful.
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.
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Thinkstock photo via Lana Brest.