Depression is a part of a behavior category called a mood disorder. When we have a mood disorder we behave differently because of they way we feel. Some people with depression feel crummy and weak. When I had my turn with depression I just felt angry and lonely. I pushed people away because I didn't want to bother anyone. Then I had a paradigm of wanting people's company but not wanting to have to talk to anyone. I decided to write down some thoughts that I had when dealing with my depression that I didn't want anyone to else to know. I thought to share this idea with my clients that have been in my office when I was working as a therapist and counselor.
I would ask them,"What if you had a secret about depression and you didn't want to admit it to your friends?" Here are some of the insights that I've collected over the years that I would like to share with you.
Depression is a challenging mood disorder. The tragic contradiction of living with depression is while the darkness can make you push people away – it’s also when we need our friends the most. So how do we communicate this?
How do we tell our friends what we need when in the thick of it, we might not even know?
To start a conversation about what people with depression need from their friends, we asked people living with depression to share one thing they don’t admit to their friends. Because our friends really do want to support us — and sharing the hard stuff can be a great first step in teaching them how.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “I’m afraid that my depression is clouding my own, personal opinion about things. When I re-post things on Facebook instead of sharing my own direct thoughts it’s my way of expressing my true feelings about something. That's when you need to pay attention to what I’m really trying to say.”
2. “I hurt, every day. And when I back out of plans or don’t respond to you. It’s not because I want to. It’s because covering up the hurt and sadness I feel every day and painting on a smile is exhausting and takes up all of my energy — so I isolate myself because it’s so much easier… but I would never tell you that!”
3. “I need them. I hate admitting I need help or I need someone, but if it’s one thing I need to survive my depressive episodes, then it’s my friends. Even if we sit in the same room on our phones, their presence is better than nothing.”
4. “I actually do wish I could take you up on your, ‘I’m always here for you if you want to talk’ offers! But I don’t. Because I value your friendship, and I don’t want my depression to enter into it and ruin things. Been there, done that.”
5. “When you do something thoughtful for me, just know that I’m grateful for you thinking of me. I might not be able to express it or I might act like it’s no big deal but in reality, it is.”
6. “I will always have bad days, so please don’t be disappointed when I succumb to the darkness after so many good days. Just support me the way you did at the start and don’t grow impatient with me.”
7. “When someone gives me a gift I might have a hard time accepting it because I don’t feel like I deserve it. Please don’t be offended. I am truly grateful for your thoughtfulness. I’m just struggling with my own self-worth and value.”
8. “I can tell when you are faking your sympathy towards me and when you are sincere. Don’t think that just because I have depression, It might hinder my judgement. It actually fine tunes it. So please, treat me with respect. When you share your feelings with me, no matter what they are, please be sincere.”
9. “Every time I pretend to be strong enough and help everybody else pick up their pieces, some of my own crack harder and deeper. But I can’t let anyone else help me. Cause I don’t want to be a burden.”
10. “The more normal you treat me, the better that I feel about things. When you call me to tell me something about the world that I might be interested in, it shows that you really do care about me and you’re not just saying that you care.”
11. “Some days I can’t leave my bed, can’t shower, can’t change my clothes and brush my hair. I’m not gross. I’m not lazy. But I don’t want to be embarrassed because I physically can’t do things that seem so simple and mundane to many people.”
12. “Sending me a random text about a favorite song or quote that you’ve come across can really make my day much more than you ever realize.”
13. “I spend hours in bed daily, unable to force myself to get up and shower. Conquering the day or going to work always seems like getting ready for war.”
14. “My depression makes me feel like I ruin friendships. My friends say they’re there for me, but when I reach out, I feel like I’m being burdensome. Also, I don’t need you to try and ‘fix’ me, but I just need you to sit there in the darkness with me and maybe hold a flashlight or candle until I can hold it myself.”
15. “I need you. I push you away, but it’s not my intention. I may say things I don’t mean. I may seem like I don’t care, but I do. But you need to know, all you can do is hug and try to support me. You can’t cure my depression. I don’t need it. I just need someone to hold my hand and help me get through it. I don’t say it enough, but thank you. And don’t feel guilty, cause you can’t always make it better. Just being there for me shows a lot.”
16. “When I cancel plans, there is no ‘doctor’s appointment’ or ‘poorly baby’ or ‘other plans I forgot about.’ I just can’t face going outside and having to function.”
17. “I wish I was strong enough to admit the real brutality of it so I didn’t have to deal with it alone.”
18. “If I randomly text you, I need you. Even if it’s been months. I seclude myself, but once I initiate something please, please be there for me.”
19. “I don’t want to admit how comfortable I have gotten into it. It is tough trying to crawl out of it as I sit alone, wishing I hadn’t pushed everyone away long ago. It’s easier said than done to reach out and contact you again, as I secretly hope you’d say hi. I don’t want to bother you, I think you’re busy, so I carry on alone, waiting for the next moment of distraction.”
20. “I’m hurting. I feel trapped inside myself and have felt this way for over 10 years. Your words of encouragement, positivity, and advice are all well-intentioned; but just because I shoot down your advice and positivity, doesn’t mean I’m resisting your help. It just means I’ve either tried it already, heard it already, or it just won’t work from prior knowledge. Nevertheless, I still appreciate your concern.”
21. “They have saved my life more than they know, and I don’t feel worthy of their love. Or that I can ever repay them. I feel forever in their debt. I’m afraid to share how bad depression and suicidal thoughts are, so I hide it.”
22. “I love and miss them, but sometimes just can’t do things. I can’t put on a happy face and pretend everything is OK when the demons in my head are telling me I’m worthless and nobody cares about me.”
23. “I’m not suicidal or morbid by nature. At times I just want to disappear so that I won’t be a burden on anyone else and my thoughts won’t be such a constant burden on me.”
24. “I lie a lot. I’ll never tell them how I actually feel because there are times that when I do show my true feelings it overwhelms them and I’m the one that needs to reassure them. I’ve been dealing with this myself for years so I just want them to live their lives and know I’m OK even if I’m not.”
25. “Almost every time when they have asked me, ‘Are you OK?’ and I’ve answered, ‘Just tired,’ I haven’t been just tired, I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.”
26. “I sometimes have suicidal thoughts. I don’t share that information because I am not actually suicidal ( I never have been, death actually scares me) and I fear people will judge me for it.”
27. “Every time they make a joke about depression or even question if I’m being honest or ‘faking it,’ I can’t help but distance myself further. I don’t want my depression to be my defining ‘trait,’ but I need people I care about to acknowledge and respect such a big part of my life.”
28. “I feel like there is this stigma of shame around the idea of depression and I’m not valued for what I can give to the world, only for what “label” I have.”
29. “I try not to tell too many people because I long to be treated like I’m normal. My feelings and opinions matter to the world. They are not jaded just because I have depression.”
30. “I will always have those dark and twisted thoughts that put me in the hospital and residential treatment. I’m just too afraid to talk about them. I can’t handle losing another friend because of my depression.”
31. “Doing simple things together pulls me out of my depression faster than planning a huge big activity. Giving me small but positive things to look forward to on a consistent basis gives me something to look forward which helps pull me out of depression for longer periods of time.”
32. “I might not always be able to convey this very well but your friendship with me means more than life itself, in so many ways.”
If you can relate to any of these thoughts above please know that you are not alone. There are so many people out there that have had these exact same kind of thoughts. Let's start a conversation by sharing this with someone who can relate, then check out our other articles to see if you can find some answers on your journey to better mental wellness.