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19 Real Ways People Reacted When Their Loved Ones Said 'I'm Depressed'

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When you’re already under the spell of depression, it can be exhausting to reach out to a friend or family member just to say, “Hi,” let alone let them know what you’re going through. Especially if you’re someone who’s experiencing depression for the first time, or someone who tends to keep your feelings to yourself, it’s not easy to reach out to a loved one and say the fateful words, “I’m depressed.” We know not everyone reacts well or knows what to say, so there’s always some risk involved.

Maybe they don’t believe you because you don’t “look depressed,” or assume it’s the same thing as sadness, and you just need to suck it up, look on the bright side and remember how lucky you are (bleh). But, as awareness about depression spreads, we’re (hopefully!) becoming more compassionate — and now, some people who open up about depression get the reaction they deserve.

To find out some great things people said to a loved one “coming out” about being depressed, we asked our mental health community to share reactions that stuck out to them. If you’re in a position of supporting someone with depression and don’t know what to say (or do), maybe some of these answers will inspire you.

Also, we want you to know if you don’t have anyone to text when you’re down, there’s no shame in reaching out to the Crisis Text Line. Text HOME to 741741 for free, 24-hour crisis support in the U.S. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “My husband bought me a box. He filled it with things I liked — sweets, chocolate, magazines and a diary. The diary was so I could write down how I was feeling and if there was anything on my mind that I was confident enough to tell him. He would then check my diary and hold me so we could talk through my feelings and thoughts. He also helps remind and encourage me to do basic things like brush my hair or teeth and take a shower.” — Chelsea G.
  2. “My husband always says, ‘What can I do to help you?’ I usually don’t know the answer, but the fact that he asks is comforting.” — Peggy S.
  3. “I’ve had depression since I was 11-12. I told my three closet friends about my depression when I was 17. My closest friends hugged me and sat me down. They said, ‘We are always going to be here for you. I know depression will tell you that we’ll leave. But I promise you we won’t.’ I have this thing where when I go into a bad depression my friends (three of them) will message me asking if I was OK and if I needed anything. They would ask if I wanted company or wanted to be alone. They always reassured me they would always be by my side. Three years later and they are still by my side.” — Lauren P.
  4. “My dad and I have always been close. I’ve always considered him my friend, as well as my parent. When I figured out why my depression was so bad, I confided in my dad. He lovingly understood and said, ‘All you can do is all anyone expects of you.’ He never makes me feel bad for having mental health limitations. His love is unconditional.” — Melody A.
  5. “I remember whenever I would fall into a deep depression and thought no one else noticed, my mom would constantly be there checking on me and helping me through it. I never really realized what she was doing until I moved out. She would get me out of bed on days when I didn’t want to leave it, she would ask me to run errands with her, go for a walk with her, give me ‘pep talks’ and just get me out of the house. She would make sure I ate and drank water and was taking care of myself on days when I didn’t want to. It makes me sad because in the moment, I thought she was just being an annoying mom, but now I know she was trying to help me through my depression. I’m moved out and married now, and I have that support from my husband and my mom. I’m so thankful.” — Natalie V.
  6. “During a particularly bad spell, I was crying for no reason I could articulate, unable to get out of bed. My husband laid in bed with me and held me. When that didn’t work, he kissed my forehead and went to make dinner for the kids and, when I wouldn’t get out of bed to eat, he did the best possible thing he could think of — he brought my pets into the room, called them up to the bed and left me to be smothered in furry affection until I was calm enough to get up.” — Mary M.
  7. “One of my best friends always tells me, ‘You don’t have to be a certain way, just be what you need to be,’ when I tell her I’m struggling and that I’m sorry I’m not happier. It makes me feel better to know that it’s OK with her if I’m not smiles and fun all the time.” — Megan G.
  8. “I was struggling for years, but was too scared to tell my mother and telling my father wasn’t even an option — my parents are divorced and I live with my mother. It was my drama teacher who saw me at my worst. He didn’t approach me directly, but the evening after I left my course on a particularly hard day, he sent me a message telling me he understood what was going on and was there if I wanted to talk. He knew if he said it to me directly I would get scared, so he did this. It is the single greatest gesture of understanding I have been given. I still keep his message to read when I’m down. He is a massive reason for my continuing recovery.” — Lauren A.
  9. “My sister said, ‘I love you’ and that I was brave and strong for telling her. She said, ‘We are going to get you the help you need and I will be by your side the whole time.’ She was and still is.” — Nicole S.
  10. “The most helpful thing my boyfriend says is, ‘I’m here for you no matter what.’ It definitely helps reassure me that I can go to him no matter how bad things are.” — Kalei L.
  11. “‘Get some help’ and I don’t think it was meant in a bad way. I ended up taking that advice and honestly still think it was the best thing I ever did.” — Dani D.
  12. “Asking me what I needed, what I wanted and telling me to always feel safe to tell him when I’m in crisis. He told me it was legitimate to feel how I feel and simply to be who I am.” — Albane L.
  13. “It was my daughter. She was only 6, and she said, ‘It’s OK, Mom.’” — Tara M.
  14. “‘I have to depression too. We can help each other stay accountable.’” — Avery J.
  15. “I was recently in a psychiatric facility following years and years of mental health issues. For two years I had struggled with a friend’s suicide, as well as the PTSD from the incident and grieving another friend’s death that was related to the suicide. For a month, I had been more suicidal than ever; I was at total peace with ending my life. My dad, who doesn’t have mental illness and doesn’t quite understand it, called to check on me. Instead of the usual, “OK, you’re OK and I’m changing the subject now because it’s uncomfortable’ — he is very supportive don’t get me wrong, just not an emotional guy — he listened as I told him everything. He told me how proud he was that I got help, and that he couldn’t imagine losing his only child. When he would call, and I couldn’t come to the phone, he would have the nurse tell me he loves me and that he had called to check on me. My dad has always been supportive, but when I was at my lowest, he turned it up a notch. I needed my dad, and even from across the country, he made sure I knew he was there.” — Elliott P.
  16. “My aunt called me in the hospital and said, ‘I’m a big fan of you.’” — Jeneane M.
  17. “‘You are not the person the depression makes you think you are.’ Another said, simply, ‘Don’t let it define you.’” — Kailen R.
  18. “‘Babe, we can do this.’ I hate cliche sayings, so just knowing he’s there with me is all I need.” — Sophia B.
  19. “My boyfriend is a smartass and a Big Lebowski fan, so when I get anxious [or depressed] and can’t verbalize a specific issue, he just says: ‘Nothing is f*cked, dude,’ which immediately makes me laugh, but also reassures me that everything is OK. On the flip side, my mom will ask specifics and give me a hug. I’m 33, but being hugged and held by my mom when I’m down is just what I need sometimes.
    — Rachie W.

What did you need to hear from a loved one when you told them you were depressed? Tell us in the comments below.

Originally published: April 5, 2018
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