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Why Telling Me 'Things Will Get Better' Doesn't Help My Depression

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When depression rears its ugly head, things can feel dark and foggy. It can be hard to stay present in the moment, let alone think about the future. Or when you do think about the future, it can feel as though it will be as bleak and endless as things are right now. For me, there’s just nothing. Depression makes me feel like there’s very little hope for tomorrow.

Yet, when I turn to well-meaning advice from friends who have never experienced this, what I hear the most is: “Things will get better eventually!”

I’ve had depression for more than half my life. There was a time when I was constantly self-harming, and even now, there are still moments, albeit few and far between, where I still want to self-harm. I’ve had a suicide attempt during a particularly low period, and I still consider it once in awhile. I can sometimes tell when I’m about to fall into a depressive state, and I know I’m powerless to stop it.

But I’ve figured something out from dealing with this for years:

Things do get better — whether it’s just a bright spot in a bleak day or a couple of weeks of feeling “normal.” There is always something that eventually comes and chases away the darkness in my head for a little while. That is, until something inevitably triggers me again and all I want to do is lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for hours on end.

Knowing that something will eventually come along to help my mind feel somewhat “normal” has been one of the only reasons I’ve been able to deal with depression without therapy or medication. Sometimes that bright spot doesn’t come along for months. Sometimes it only takes a few weeks. But it always happens.

When someone tells me that, “things will get better,” they’re telling me something I already know, something I have lived with over and over again for years.

But when depression clouds my mind, I can’t see that future. I know it’s there, but it’s like I’m trudging through a dark tunnel and I don’t know when I’m going to get that hint of light. Knowing that it’s there somewhere doesn’t help because I have no idea which direction to turn.

Most of the time, the “things will get better eventually” advice comes from a good place. I know whoever tells me this is just trying to help.

For me, it only helps in the future, not in the now – and when things are dark and bleak, I need help with the now.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via Prudkov. 

Originally published: July 26, 2017
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