When we suffer in depression’s darkness, we rely on the love and compassion of friends and family to help traverse to the other side even though they may not understand. Learn effective ways to share about your depression with your loved ones and strengthen your support system.

~~~

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how I’d gotten to this place. I was the doctor. I was supposed to have the answers. I was supposed to be immune.

That’s just it, no one is immune from the possibility of depression. It attacks regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status.

I avoided his eyes, as I stared out the car window, my body frozen in place by fear. Not sure I wanted to go on living, but not really wanting to die either. I just wanted the pain to end.

“Honey, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do to help…” my husband declared upon hearing my desperate condition.

If my life was going to be this painful and bleak, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue enduring more of the same, and I told him so.

He was scared, and I was scared. I just wanted someone to tell me everything was going to be all right, and for that to be the truth. He just wanted me to promise him that I was going to be all right, and yet I could make no promises at that point.

~~~

Depression. It cuts to the core and shatters lives. Yet it can’t be seen from the outside and it’s often misunderstood.

Depression is our greatest cause of disability worldwide. About 280 million people in the world have depression. The pandemic caused an increased prevalence of depression and anxiety by a massive 25%.

In the United States alone, nearly 21 million Americans are diagnosed with depression every year…that amounts to one in thirteen adults being diagnosed every year. And in their lifetime, one in four people will be diagnosed.

About 10% of Americans experience depression yearly. 20% of adolescents aged 12 and older display symptoms.

So if you have not suffered from this painful, debilitating condition, chances are, you know or love one who has or does.

But what about when you’re the one who is suffering?

Leaning on loved ones to help us make it through the darkness of depression

Trying to adequately describe depression to someone else who has never had the misfortune to suffer its torment, is like trying to describe a circus to a blind person. And yet, when we suffer in depression’s darkness, we rely on the love and compassion of friends and family to help traverse to the other side—the very ones who, although they try, may not understand.

One of the best descriptions of depression to which I ever related was, “Depression is like drowning—except you can see everyone else around you breathing.”

When you’re depressed you just want others to understand.

How to share about your struggle with depression with your loved ones

This guide will help you explain depression to your loved ones to aid in their understanding:

1. Depression is a medical condition. 

It’s classified as a “mental illness” because it is impacted by the neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain is an organ just like the heart or the lungs. As such, someone suffering with depression can’t just “snap out of it” or “think positively” any more than they could “snap out of it” or “think positively” to cure their diabetes or epilepsy.

2. While depression is a mental illness that affects our emotions, it has physical consequences as well.

When most people think about depression, they think about someone with a sad mood, who cries, and perhaps stays in bed too much. But depression can impact a person physically too. It brings with it considerable fatigue, decreased energy, concentration difficulty, sleep and appetite changes, and sometimes even aches and pains. Little things like taking a shower or brushing teeth can feel like weighty, monumental tasks. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.

3. Depression doesn’t fall along the normal continuum of emotions, and it’s much more than sadness.

Depression is outside the realm of what would be considered normal for the situation. It isn’t a case of the Sunday night blues, or reasonable frustration when things don’t go as planned. It’s far more serious—that’s why it’s categorized as an “illness.” As such, we can’t be expected to “feel better in the morning.” It can take weeks or months or years to overcome, especially without adequate treatment.

4. Nobody chooses to be depressed.

Depression is a painful, debilitating condition. Yet sometimes the treatment to get well invokes fear in those who suffer. Research has shown that sometimes, we are motivated by fear to stay in our known misery rather than face the misery of the unknown—regardless of how good the ultimate outcome might be.

5. Success is irrelevant.

when one is depressed, prior successes and accomplishments to date are irrelevant and do nothing to buoy spirits. At any other time, I believe gratitude is a very important character trait. But when someone is depressed, encouraging us to remember “how good we have it” or “how far we’ve come” does nothing to minimize the suffocating pain we feel. I can almost guarantee we’d trade those successes in for a guaranteed life of peace and joy in a heartbeat.

6. Comparison is the thief of joy.

in your attempt to try to encourage and motivate a depressed loved one, it isn’t helpful to compare our situation to how much worse someone else is suffering. It won’t make a loved one feel any better about our situation, nor will it lessen our darkness. It will only induce guilt and prompt frustration and anger, further intensifying the magnitude of our despair when we are now convinced you don’t understand or empathize with our pain.

7. We just need to be heard.

Depression can feel lonely and isolating, and even a bit frightening. While you might be worrying about having the right thing to say, we just want the opportunity to be together, to share, and to be heard without needing you to say anything or try to fix it. We don’t want to be anyone’s project. Sometimes we just need to be validated that we are still cared about and found worthy even when we don’t feel it.

8. We need your presence.

When a loved one is navigating the pain of depression, your presence means more than perfect words. The gift of your presence lends strength when they feel weak. It offers togetherness and community when they feel scared and alone. It provides acceptance when they feel worthless and rejected. Don’t search for the perfect words, just be a sustaining presence and you will be remembered for your role in the journey to the other side of the dark valley.

 

Depression can feel isolating, but your loved ones can be your anchor. Read more to learn effective ways to share the pain of depression and strengthen your support system.

 

As one who is struggling with depression, we have to extend grace to those who haven’t walked that road and who don’t understand. It’s not their fault. Let’s help educate and be part of the solution.

But most of all, when it feels like your closest friends and loved ones don’t understand, remember that God does. You aren’t alone—He promises to never leave you or forsake you. He also promises that he is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Lean on Him—He’s the best source of comfort and support you could ever have!

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

 

 

This article was also shared here:  I Am Believing God.

~~~

Depression Resources

Depression resources: Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study

Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study make great Christmas gifts!

Hope Prevails offers tangible help, hope, and healing from depression. Get your copy now!

Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression

Hope Prevails Bible Study

For a Free eBook: How to Help a Depressed Loved One

For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: 10 things to know if you have a depressed loved one.

Tips: what not to say to a depressed loved one and suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one.

 

 

Ever been lost in the depths of depression, wishing your loved ones understood? Navigating depression is tough, but you don't have to do it alone. Check out these tips on sharing your struggle with loved ones to foster understanding and build a bridge to the other side.

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