John Fernandes

@johnnypfernandes | contributor
John has a Masters in Addiction Counseling and a BS in Christian Studies with a Minor in Worship Arts. He has struggled with several things such as Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, Bulimia, addiction, and Bipolar Disorder.

Don't Just Post About Supporting Those With Depression, Support Them

As I scroll through social media, I see on my feed pictures and status updates telling people they are “safe” to talk to about suicidal thoughts. They give out the number to the suicide hotline. They post pictures saying, “I’d rather hear your struggles than hear your eulogy.” You would think this would make my heart happy. Instead, it just saddens me and even angers me. The same people I see post this are people I have personally reached out to when I was struggling. I battle depression and bipolar disorder. I rarely ever reach out for help unless it is extremely bad. When I have reached out, it already took everything I had. I am embarrassed I am struggling and I don’t want to burden anybody with my battle. When I do reach out, it took many hours debating whether I should or not. Most of the time, I end up disappointed and even more embarrassed I asked for help. I have been told, “You are strong, you got this.” If this were true, I wouldn’t be talking to you. I have been told, “Hey, I am busy right now, but I know you will get through this.” If I had thought the same, I wouldn’t be talking to you. I’ve had my feelings invalidated. I have been given cliché phrases to get me off their back. Nobody took my depression seriously until I attempted suicide in 2017 and ended up in the hospital. It was not long after when people stopped caring again. Depression often doesn’t just go away. I find myself, once again, in a place where asking for help is useless. I have gotten tired of trying to ask for help. It is hard not to come off as needy or desperate. All the resources “out there” feel pretty useless, too. The national suicide hotline did not help me in any way. They merely brainstormed with me ideas to distract myself from my depression. Recently, my best friend took her life. She was a case manager and had friends in the mental health field, yet nobody knew or saw it coming, including me. Maybe she felt the same as I do. We need reform. We need to take depression seriously. Instead of posting an “inspirational” picture or quote to encourage people to seek help, let us be the help. Let us be available when somebody needs us to sit in the dark moments with them. Let us not pass off people in need because we are “busy” or because they are “strong.” Help them be strong. People are strong because they are not given the choice to be weak. It is literally a matter of life or death. Walk the walk instead of talk the talk.

To the Friends Who Responded to a ‘Hey’ Text During My Depression

“Hey.” If you’re a friend a mine, you have probably gotten a couple of texts like this recently. They may seem random, but they are not. In one word, I am crying for help. I’ll never admit to you how much I am actually struggling. This is not necessarily a pride thing, but because I feel like I am bothering you and that I am not worth your time. If I get real bad, I may even call you. Again, I won’t tell you that I am struggling. Instead, I will check in on how you are doing. My way of getting out of my head is to either distract myself with a meaningless conversation or to see how I can help you. I won’t really talk about me or what I’m thinking. I don’t want to worry you. I know these thoughts will pass and I just need to get through them. Not many people seem to respond to my text of “hey.” So, I assume they are busy, so I don’t pursue it. Then, I get even deeper in my head and feel like I even burdened them by saying that. I start overthinking as to what I did to upset them. When I don’t get a response, I go deeper into my pit of self-loathing, self-pity and depression. There’s nothing to help me until temptation passes. There is nothing to preoccupy my mind. So, to the friends who respond to a “hey” text, I thank you. You may have saved me from a bad decision and not known it, just by being a friend. I’m not sure who else does this, but because I know how I am. I always respond to a text message or call a friend back. I know what it’s like to feel alone and just need some kind of interaction.

To the Friends Who Responded to a ‘Hey’ Text During My Depression

“Hey.” If you’re a friend a mine, you have probably gotten a couple of texts like this recently. They may seem random, but they are not. In one word, I am crying for help. I’ll never admit to you how much I am actually struggling. This is not necessarily a pride thing, but because I feel like I am bothering you and that I am not worth your time. If I get real bad, I may even call you. Again, I won’t tell you that I am struggling. Instead, I will check in on how you are doing. My way of getting out of my head is to either distract myself with a meaningless conversation or to see how I can help you. I won’t really talk about me or what I’m thinking. I don’t want to worry you. I know these thoughts will pass and I just need to get through them. Not many people seem to respond to my text of “hey.” So, I assume they are busy, so I don’t pursue it. Then, I get even deeper in my head and feel like I even burdened them by saying that. I start overthinking as to what I did to upset them. When I don’t get a response, I go deeper into my pit of self-loathing, self-pity and depression. There’s nothing to help me until temptation passes. There is nothing to preoccupy my mind. So, to the friends who respond to a “hey” text, I thank you. You may have saved me from a bad decision and not known it, just by being a friend. I’m not sure who else does this, but because I know how I am. I always respond to a text message or call a friend back. I know what it’s like to feel alone and just need some kind of interaction.

To the Friends Who Responded to a ‘Hey’ Text During My Depression

“Hey.” If you’re a friend a mine, you have probably gotten a couple of texts like this recently. They may seem random, but they are not. In one word, I am crying for help. I’ll never admit to you how much I am actually struggling. This is not necessarily a pride thing, but because I feel like I am bothering you and that I am not worth your time. If I get real bad, I may even call you. Again, I won’t tell you that I am struggling. Instead, I will check in on how you are doing. My way of getting out of my head is to either distract myself with a meaningless conversation or to see how I can help you. I won’t really talk about me or what I’m thinking. I don’t want to worry you. I know these thoughts will pass and I just need to get through them. Not many people seem to respond to my text of “hey.” So, I assume they are busy, so I don’t pursue it. Then, I get even deeper in my head and feel like I even burdened them by saying that. I start overthinking as to what I did to upset them. When I don’t get a response, I go deeper into my pit of self-loathing, self-pity and depression. There’s nothing to help me until temptation passes. There is nothing to preoccupy my mind. So, to the friends who respond to a “hey” text, I thank you. You may have saved me from a bad decision and not known it, just by being a friend. I’m not sure who else does this, but because I know how I am. I always respond to a text message or call a friend back. I know what it’s like to feel alone and just need some kind of interaction.

To the Friends Who Responded to a ‘Hey’ Text During My Depression

“Hey.” If you’re a friend a mine, you have probably gotten a couple of texts like this recently. They may seem random, but they are not. In one word, I am crying for help. I’ll never admit to you how much I am actually struggling. This is not necessarily a pride thing, but because I feel like I am bothering you and that I am not worth your time. If I get real bad, I may even call you. Again, I won’t tell you that I am struggling. Instead, I will check in on how you are doing. My way of getting out of my head is to either distract myself with a meaningless conversation or to see how I can help you. I won’t really talk about me or what I’m thinking. I don’t want to worry you. I know these thoughts will pass and I just need to get through them. Not many people seem to respond to my text of “hey.” So, I assume they are busy, so I don’t pursue it. Then, I get even deeper in my head and feel like I even burdened them by saying that. I start overthinking as to what I did to upset them. When I don’t get a response, I go deeper into my pit of self-loathing, self-pity and depression. There’s nothing to help me until temptation passes. There is nothing to preoccupy my mind. So, to the friends who respond to a “hey” text, I thank you. You may have saved me from a bad decision and not known it, just by being a friend. I’m not sure who else does this, but because I know how I am. I always respond to a text message or call a friend back. I know what it’s like to feel alone and just need some kind of interaction.

Community Voices

5 Things I do When Having A Depressive Episode

I have bipolar, so depression is inevitable. Even with medication, I still have bad days. I have been experiencing a depressive episode lately. I call it an episode because I know it won’t last. However, it does not feel like that when I deep into my depression. I tend to isolate, avoid responsibility, lose my humor, and worst of all, lose myself. There are steps I need to take to get out of myself and focus on more positive things in life.

1. See A Counselor

There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor for a little help. They can see your situation from an objective point of view as well as offer advice and coping skills that your depressionhas blinded you from seeing. I saw my counselor this last Friday and I have a follow up appointment this coming Friday. My counselor actually cares for my wellbeing. I have been with him for years. We have a bond and I trust him to steer me in the right direction and tell me what I need to hear.

2. Reach Out To Friends

The biggest thing to realize is that you are not alone, though you may feel alone. When I am depressed, I isolate. I have spent a majority of my last two weeks laying in bed avoiding people and

responsibilities. I was even late to work twice this week and I am never late, just to avoid human interaction. A step I took today was reach out to my friends and let them know my mental health is not in a good spot. They responded with compassion and love. They have invited me to do things and me following up with them, no matter how much I don’t want to leave the comfort of my bed, will be good for me.

3.Reach Out To My Mentor

My mentor has been by my side since I was a senior in high school. He has stayed with me despite struggling with addiction, an eating disorder, self-loathing, self-harm, suicide attempts, and

more. Over and over, he has demonstrated his unconditional love for me. He is older than I and I look up to him. I know he will have some advice or just be willing to take me out to get out of my head.

4.Take a Mental Health Day

I am a busy person. I work two jobs and I am working on two master programs. On top of that, I have the blessing of planning a wedding to the most unbelievably wonderful woman. Although these are all things I want to do, they keep me from getting rest and focusing on my

mental health.  I noticed I had not taken any time to do something for me as a form of self-care. Self-care is vital for people who struggle with . So, I took a day trip up north with two of

my best friends. We went hiking, eating, shopping, and sang badly to some Demi Lovato. When I got home, I was exhausted and slept for 15 hours. It was just what I needed to do some recharging.

5.Practice saying No

I am a 2 on the Enneagram. This means I am a helper. I love helping people and showing them unconditional love. Often times, I end of investing too much and failing to set up healthy boundaries so that I can have some time for me to recharge. I often neglect myself. What I had to realize is that I cannot pour from an empty cup. I did things out of a feeling of obligation, but with a horrible and irritable attitude. My counselor advised me that I needed to start saying “no.” That goes against my personality. After conversing, we decided that I was to practice “now is not a good time for me” as a phrase to use in order to prevent myself from taking on more than I can chew.

Taking steps towards breaking the cycle of is what I needed to do. If you are feeling depressed, be active in your recovery. Reach out and take care of yourself.

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Community Voices

5 Things To Do When Getting Out of Bed Seems Impossible

Some days it seems nearly impossible to get out of bed because of #Depression and lack of motivation. Those are the days that we need to be intentional about getting out of bed and ceasing the day. When I get tied down by my depression, I usually force myself out of bed and into the shower to start my day, even if I know I’m not leaving the house. Being in that kind of routine helps keep my depression at bay. I was curious to see what other people do when getting out of bed seems impossible, so I took to social media and asked the question. These were the results I got.

Remember, there is a full new day ahead of you

“I like to think about how it’s worth getting up because it’s a new day and yesterday is behind me” -Tiffany P.
“Whatever happened yesterday is in the past. I have to live in the present.” -John F.

Be of service to somebody

“I think of what God could do through me if I made myself available.” -Javaugn M.
“Pray and think of the impact on my girls if I stayed in bed all day.” -Lori C

Find something you can do today

“On days when I actually have to get out of bed regardless of whether I want to do it, it is a lot easier than the days where I have nothing going on. So, I generally try to keep myself busy so I’m not getting stuck in my head.” -Amber N.
“Drink lots of coffee” -Alex S.

Be goal oriented

“I focus on a list of tasks to do whether it be as small as cleaning up a little around the house or as big as going to the grocery store or fast station. That way I have given myself a reason to get up no matter how miniscule it is.” -Jackie R.
“I think of one goal: cereal. Then after cereal, I do whatever I think of next.” -Grace M.

Plan your days

“I make sure I have things planned, I call a friend, or yell at myself. Today my motivation was that I’m dog sitting, and pets are great motivators.” -Denise W.
“I think: ‘Get the first victory of the day – go to the gym.’ I’ve done it long enough to know that it really does improve the day.” =Jeren R.

Community Voices

8 Things We Wish Our Loved Ones Understood About Depression

Often times when we are having a depressive episode, it is hard for us to communicate what we need.  #Depression is like a dark cloud that follows us. It permeates our minds and our relationships. It makes life difficult and tells us lies. There are some things we need our loved ones to understand about depression.

Sometimes, we do not know what triggers our depression

“We don’t know what triggers it or why we get down all of a sudden.” -Alisa T.

We are not weak-minded.

“Be understanding and not assume everyone is strong minded or assume people that do have or #Anxiety are weak people.” -Itzel E.

Reaching out is difficult. Please check in on us.

“Telling me to reach out when I need them is a great thought but I get too anxious to reach out…I need random check-ins….but not just filled with questions about how I’m doing because I feel pressured to talk about what I don’t want to talk about it I feel like I don’t want to burden you with my problems…I’m the strong one that people come to so I feel weird and anxious when I have to seek help.” -Tiffany A.

I’m not Lazy

“Having a condition that is not visible or not tangible does not mean I’m just lazy or she’s just “sad”. It’s a little more than that.” -Sylvia F.

I need non-judgemental love

“When I’m feeling depressed and anxious, all I need is a little nonjudgmental love. Literally, the most helpful thing when I’m feeling shit is having someone say “I’m sorry you’re sad and don’t know why. I don’t know why either and I don’t know how to fix it, but I’ll sit here with you so you aren’t alone.” -Elyssabeth H.

I am trying to get better

“I can’t control it by “controlling my thoughts” and yes, I am trying. And no, I’m not like this for attention or because I like it.” -Holly M.

I’m not crazy

“I’m not crazy…even though sometimes I feel like I am…” – Melody M.

I do not want to feel this way

“I wish they understood I never wanted this nor asked for it. Also just love and support me unconditionally.” -Kris H.

How to Help Someone You Love With Bipolar Depression

There are several sources for somebody with bipolar disorder to learn to love themselves, from self-help books to the Bible to therapy and more. However, there are limited sources available for people who love somebody with bipolar depression. You could be a family member, a significant other or a friend and not know how to respond in love to somebody struggling with bipolar disorder. I know it is sometimes difficult for my family and my girlfriend to know what I need when I am going through an episode, and it is difficult for me to articulate what I need at the moment. Here are some tips for how to love somebody with Bipolar Depression. 1. Don’t take it personal. It is not your fault they are depressed. There is nothing you did to cause this. Part of bipolar depression is having episodes of mania and depression. Sure, something you said could have triggered that, but playing the guessing and blame game is dangerous for both of you. If they are like me, they are not mad at you or hate you; they hate themselves at the moment. Let them vent to you about how much their life sucks or how much they hate themselves. They are not saying they don’t love you or appreciate you. They can only focus on the negatives at the moment. The last thing they need is you being frustrated or upset with them for something they can’t control. All you will do is close them off from talking to you. 2. Don’t try to fix them. As much as you want to, it is not your job to fix them or how they are feeling. In fact, you probably can’t since bipolar depression is a chemical imbalance. They have heard all the advice in the world, whether spiritual or secular. They know what they need to do to get better, they just don’t have the motivation to do it. Just listen if they want to speak. I know for me, I hate when people try to give me advice because they do not know what I am experiencing right now. Be there for them instead. Let them experience their emotions. Let them know you are available for them and you love them. That is the biggest thing. Help them understand they are loved. 3. Remain patient. You do not understand what they are going through. There is a good chance they do not know what they are going through as well. You may want them to talk about it, but they may honestly not know how to articulate the thoughts going through their head. There is so much spinning in their head and it just cannot come out in coherent sentences. Stay patient with them. If anything, just sit with them and assure them they are not alone in this valley. 4. Check in on them. If you know somebody you love is experiencing depression, check in on them. Send them a simple text or give them a call, just to talk. Talking about anything can help distract them from what they are feeling and that can assuage some of the depression. Or, it can be a simple text saying you love them and are thinking of them. By doing this, you are demonstrating they have an impact in this world and that somebody is thinking of them. This counters some of the negative talk they are telling themselves. 5. Ask the tough questions. There are some questions that are tough to both hear and ask, yet it is vital, out of your love for that person, that you ask the following questions: How can I help? Have you been taking your medication? Are you seeing a therapist? Are you having suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan? Can I get you help? Now these tips will not work for everybody or at all times, but they are good tools to have under your belt. Try them. The biggest takeaway is just to love them in the way they need, not the way you think is best. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.