Here's the part one if you want to read that first. I'm hoping the result will at the very least be a little something we can share with others who are dealing with the same things OR to help others understand us. A little "behind the curtain" action, if you will. On to part two....
The first rule about being depressed is that you don't talk about being depressed, right?
No one wants to be around the debbie downer in the room. Or the wet blanket. Or the constantly bummed out friend. It's exhausting even to us, so we get it.
When people, in general, ask how you are doing, they want you to say "fine". People like to be polite. They don't want your life story or anything past the weather or the traffic. Is there a faster way to kill a conversation than to blurt out how all you've wanted to do is sleep and eat terrible food because everything is hard to the point of physical pain? To say in response to a polite question that you can't remember a day that didn't feel grey? People don't want to hear that.
And that's ok.
If you're lucky you have a small circle of people who want to hear past the "I'm fine" of it all. They will listen and empathize if they can but chances are good that they will reach the point of "aren't you over this yet". It's hard to understand not being able to snap out of something until you can't snap out of something. It's messy and people don't want to get that on them. People grow impatient and just want to move on already (both of you).
And that's ok. And we pick up on that vibe. It tends to be very apparent but I don't think it's their fault, not really. And I'm not so sure they mean to be so obvious. In some cases, I think they think they are being helpful. "If she knows how tired of it we are, she'll snap out of it. A little reality check for her." The thing is, however tired people are of us, we are even more tired of us.
Society as a whole encourages the idea that "each man is an island", that you should be independent and ok on your own. That you should handle your business and never have a bad day. Or heaven forbid, a series of days. The language we hear is that if you aren't happy, it's because you are doing something wrong. Not waking up on the right side of the bed, not getting enough sleep...enough exercise or whatever people want to prescribe.
If you're a Christian, heaven forbid, you're in a whole other mess of trouble for not trusting God to heal you or relieve you or de-stress you. There must be something wrong with your doctrine, at least that's the idea. You don't pray enough. Or trust God enough. "God won't give you more than you can handle", is the biggest crock you'll hear. Please know that God is not giving you depression to test your fortitude. There is nothing wrong with your love of Jesus, even if you are depressed.
All of that is extra exhausting to try to maintain when you feel broken. Like a gymnast with a bum ankle doing her routine anyway.
The truth is that people don't want to hear it because it makes it real. I think it scares them, hearing people say they can't do anything quick about their sadness. I think an admission of depression makes them feel inadequate and the more intimate the relationship, the more so. We internalize others problems and make them about ourselves sometimes. If our spouse is depressed, it must be our fault...if only I was a better wife, friend, mother, they wouldn't have this problem and everything would be ok. If I made more time for my friend, she would be joyful. We make it about ourselves when someone we love is depressed.
BUT I think this is a key to working through depression. Being able to talk, openly and honestly and wholeheartedly about the breadth and depth of what we are feeling and not have the listener think they need to fix it, or that they even could. We need good listeners, not quick fixers. We can't begin to think we are responsible for what we think others can carry. We have to be true. That may be our quickest route to healing (if there is one).
Transparency and vulnerability are to depression as sun and rain are to plants. They just make things grow in all the right ways.
Thankfully there are people we can pay who have to listen to us. And sometimes we make it to that level, and that's ok. That's not weakness or failure. That's victory. So speak your truth. Go up the rungs as you need to. Through the fair-weather friends and beyond until you find the place you need to be to grow in all the right ways.
I'm hear to tell you...break the rules. Talk about it.
Up next...what not to say to someone struggling with depression.