invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

you might be oblivious but sometimes you insult and hurt me December 28, 2008

Thanks to finding optimism for this:

There are many ways to insult someone with depression, without even trying very hard. The best way is to give them some unsolicited advice. Something that you think is simple, yet profound, and potentially life changing. But said in ignorance. Nothing cuts deeper to someone with depression, than when their illness, which is serious, is trivialized by another who doesn’t understand it.

Here are the some of the terrible things that people say:
“This is what life is like. Get used to it.”
“Life isn’t meant to be easy.”
“Just snap out of it!”
“Pull yourself together.”
“Who said that life is fair?”
“You just have to get on with things.”
“At least it’s not that bad.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
“You have so many things. What do you have to feel down about?”
“You just need to cheer up.”
“Quit trying to be a martyr.”
“Stop taking all those medicines.”
“I know how you feel. I’ve been depressed for whole days at a time.”
“You don’t like feeling that way? So change it!”

These are my favorites:
“What you need is a good kick up the backside.”
“Go out and buy yourself some clothes. That will pick you up.”
“Are you sure you don’t have a mental problem?”
“How about I cook you a good meal. That will make things better.”
“Have you tried acupuncture?”
“Get a job!”

And the all time best:
“Why don’t you try not being depressed.”

And here are some helpful tips on what to say to someone who suffers from a real illness, yes, mental illness is real, not something we made up or decided to be one day. we suffer like anyone else with an illness:

1. Be On Their Side

* The depressed person will often be defensive, so an accusatory tone is not helpful. Try to convey a sense of understanding. It isn’t helpful to say “Why can’t you just get out of bed?” Instead try “You seem to have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. What can I do to help you in this area?”

* The person may have lost perspective on how big a problem actually is. They will find it hard to hear that what is insurmountable for them is actually not such a big deal. It is unhelpful to say “What’s your problem? You’re upset about nothing.” Instead try “You seem to be finding this issue a big deal at the moment. Can we solve it together?”

* When I was very sick, I often thought that my wife was trying to ruin my life. To counter that kind of thinking she would often say “We are a team. I am on your side.”

* Depression is an awful illness, a whole world away from pure sympathy-seeking. So you should treat it as such. “I trust you. If you had a choice in the matter you wouldn’t choose to have depression. How about we search for some solutions together?”

2. Give Plenty of Reassurance

* Many people suffering with depression feel unworthy of being loved. You need to reassure them frequently. For example “I love you for who you are. I am not going to leave you.”

* In a similar vein, they may have lost the ability to recognize their positive attributes. You might reaffirm them with “You are a sensitive person who cares for others” or “People really love you a lot. They think you’re a great person.”

* If said repeatedly and with absolute sincerity then it is helpful to say “If you ever need a friend, I am here.”

3. Give Understanding and Sympathy

* People with depression can spend a lot of time ruminating on their situation and feeling sorry for themselves. Pointing it out to them is not helpful. Instead, try to sympathize.

* “I can’t imagine how hard it is for you, but you have all my sympathy.”

* “All I want to do is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on.”

* “I can’t honestly say that I know how you feel, but I want to help in any way I can.”

4. Offer to Help

* “Let me do anything you need me to do to help.”

* If you ask “What is the best thing I can do to help you right now?” don’t be offended if the reply is “Leave me alone”. Sometimes, that is the most helpful thing you can do at present.

* Well meaning people often attempt to immediately fix the problem. “Have you tried aromatherapy? There was an article about it in the paper…” . This kind of comment can come across as trivializing the illness. If you want to introduce a treatment idea, make sure you are respectful about the seriousness of depression. “It’s important that you stay on your medication and keep seeing your doctor. I’ve found some information on aromatherapy. Would you like to look into it with me?”

* While it is important to accept the person in the state they are in, don’t let it totally consume your life. Otherwise, you’ll fall in a heap and won’t be much help to anyone. You need to take care of yourself. “I am committed to you and to helping you. But I also need to eat / shop / go out for coffee / ring a friend / see a movie to recharge my batteries. Then I can look after you better.”

5. Be open (this is one I came up with)
If your child or loved one chooses a path that you do not understand, for example, tapering off medications and traveling a different path. Believe in them. Trust them. Know that they most likely have a good reason for it. Many mentally ill people today are finding medications do not work long-term, the side effects are horrible and lead to other illnesses…therefore, just keep an open mind and believe they are making the right choice.

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