For 25 years I have had clinical depression. If you're not aware of it, clinical depression is a chemical imbalance. It can happen to anyone at anytime. In my case it happened because of a time of extreme stress in my life, my body and my mind shut down. You can read more about clinical depression by doing research. I want to tell you how to deal with a person with clinical depression, from my years of living with it. This is about my journey, I know from talking to others and sometimes even being able to help diagnosis others through the years that my symptoms mimic most others, but not everything I experience is the same.
These are a few do's and don't's.
Don't tell me:
- If my faith was stronger I could be healed. (that leads me to a guilt trip and is not conducive to healing)
- To just get over it. (you have no clue)
- To try different medications, etc. I know this disease, I know my symptoms, I know changing medications could push me further down the deep dark well.
- You have had bouts of depression also. (You are comparing a minor headache to a months long debilitating migraine)
- How blessed I am. (Logic can go out the window right now, I can barely put words together, I'm literally at the bottom of a well scratching the sides with everything I have trying to move up one inch at a time...only to keep sliding back down, I can't grasp logic)
- How your friend had.....(Yep, I've actually had folks say, 'How bad is yours, my friend committed suicide from being in depression'.....once again not conducive to my healing)
- Don't come up and hug me without asking. (Depression 'literally' hurts, I liken the pain to a horrible case of fibro (I don't have fibro, the symptoms seem about the same)your hug could give me pain that could last for days)
- Don't stop by without asking. (There are times I can barely function, taking care of my daily needs is about all I'm capable of).
- Don't talk to other people about my illness without my permission. (I know that look of pity and I don't want or need to be pitied)
- Don't text me stories about this one or that one and what worked for them. (When I am in the deep dark pit, I can't even comprehend feeling better. To be honest I can't imagine I deserve to feel better....yep, it's that bad)
- Don't talk loud. (Every noise is compounded when I'm down in the pit, I can't handle loud noises or chaos)
- Pray for me, anytime, anyplace and tell me you are...I get great comfort in that, it's something to hold onto when I'm falling deeper and deeper.
- Check on me if you know I'm alone and no one else is checking up on me. Suicide is a very real symptom, I may need help when I don't know I do. (For me personally the thought has only occurred a couple of times and those were the worst bouts I've ever had, in those moments Jesus was right there, I could feel Him surround me and redirect my thoughts). Generally for me it's more a feeling of wanting to climb in a hole or just disappear...or my term I use mostly is evaporate..I just want to sink into nothing.
- Understand that I will only be down for a few days (this last bout only lasted hours), then I will be okay. I'm not in need of fixing, I'm in need of healing time. Don't push me into things when I'm not ready.
- Remember that clinical depression is a disease. It's a chemical imbalance. It's not something made up in my head. I will get through the darkness, it takes awhile but I will climb out of this well. Every time I've been down here and want to just be in the dark all by myself, I see a tiny light there with me and after awhile I can realize that my Savior is there with me, not shoving me to climb out but sitting patiently while I try to find some clarity, then slowly we climb out together...every single time.
- If you know what makes me laugh give it a try, laughter is healing and it feels so good when nothing else possibly can.
- Ask me if I'm up for a hug, if I am hug might tight and don't let go for a long time. The human touch is a huge part of my healing.
- Tell me you love me, as often as you want. Specifically this time, since it's the first since my divorce I had a loathing for myself that only helped by being hugged and told over and over how much I was loved. This also was my first bout since becoming a grandma and just having her to hold gave me such comfort, everything about her brought me joy...that was a new feeling I'd never had before!
Every time I go through one of these episodes I come out feeling like I must help others who deal with it. That is why I wanted to share this, so you can watch for this in folks you know and possibly get them the help they need. I was sure that my Clinical Depression was gone but I will live with it and consider it a blessing...so many have so much worse.
In case you're wondering, yes I did go to the doctor. Yes, they made me talk to multiple people to make sure I wasn't going to do harm to myself, etc. The last fellow (who seemed to think he was a psychiatrist or something...I think he was an intern) finally asked:
Would you be happier in a room by yourself or a room with a thousand people? Well, I had answered so many questions I was so tired of them and I thought this one through completely....I said, I would be equally happy in both situations. He asked why and I said, 'Because I have my Savior with me every second of every day, regardless of the situation He is there and He is my joy!' Well, he tended to snark at my answer and probably thought I was more psycho than he thought, I didn't care! Just told the truth! Once again I share this to help you deal with someone with clinical depression...and above all make sure they get the help they need, make sure someone is keeping tabs on them and make sure they're eating, drinking, etc. Those basic needs are extremely important.