Depression in numbers can be both good and bad.
You need to be aware of all the reasons so that you know when you can reach out to other depressed people, and when not to.
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “I don’t want to hang out with so-and-so. He/She is such a downer,” imagine first how they must feel.
As someone who suffers from depression, I can tell you honestly, I’ve been on both ends of that conversation.
It’s not my goal to bring anyone else down. This morning, I didn’t set out to have a big funk party and invite everyone who crosses my path.
I just didn’t have the energy to paint my happy face today. It’s more likely that I’m using all my remaining energy to be up and mobile.
Faking my attitude so that my personality is more palatable to the general public is simply not in the cards today.
I’m lucky in that it’s not like this for me every day, but I’m going to talk about when it is, what I need, what can be done, and what this means for others.
It won’t be easy to hear. Please try.
What I Need
Any given down day is different. Sometimes I just need sleep, but assuming I’m up and mobile and in the public, and you happen to come across me:
- Don’t ask how I am. If you do, expect that I won’t be honest. Don’t probe. If you’re expecting a long conversation, you will be disappointed. Tell me briefly the thing you’re excited to tell me, and then go. I don’t have the energy to make an excuse. You do. If we didn’t plan this visit, make it brief. We can catch up another day.
- Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s not about you. At this point, it’s not me either. It’s a disease and it just is. We’ll have other good days to hang out. I’m sure of it.
- Please don’t judge. Don’t hold this encounter against me. I’m not like this all the time, and you know that to be true, else we might not be friends at all. I’m a good person having a tough time.
What Can Be Done
Today wasn’t a good day for me. Tomorrow might not be either. Eventually, I’ll be myself again and we can plan a day together.
We can plan to meet for coffee, or go shopping, or whatever it is that we normally do.
My ask is that you reach out to me. “I” represent your depressed friend here. Reach out to that friend who is down.
A phone call, an email, a text message, or a Facebook message. Whatever is the normal way of communication, do it.
Reach out. Ask us when we can visit again. It might not be as soon as you hope, but it will be some day.
Keep on top of this. We do need you. Most of us are too afraid to ask.
If you don’t give up on us, we won’t give up on ourselves.
Friendships are two-sided. Right now we’re not in a place where we can hold our weight, but if you value our friendship, we’ll come around.
What This Means For Others
There are people who are simply looking for attention. I’ve met a few of these people as well.
In my opinion, these people are not clinically depressed. They are seeking your pity.
I’m so down. My life is so hard. I don’t feel the will to live today. Give me reasons to live. Be my friend. Let’s hang out all the time.
Cut these people out. If you suffer from depression, these are the types of people to avoid because they bring us further and further down.
If you do not suffer, these people could quite possibly bring you so far down that you feel like you are depressed.
The problem is that we have no way of knowing, and we are in no place to judge. Depressed or not, we can’t label people.
Give it time and decide what’s best for you.
You know who your true friends are, and who is just sucking the life out of you with their vampiric teeth.
In my experience, and this is just mine, depressed people speak very little. We don’t talk because it takes more energy to move and be upright.
I speak a lot, you say? Yes, I’ve been told. I’m a talker.
This is a symptom of my social anxiety, which I’ll speak more about in a future post.
Here’s how you know: if I’m talking, it’s because a) I’m not down at the moment, or b) I have the energy to fake it.
It’s when I don’t have that energy, you’ll know. That’s when you can follow my advice above.
Addressing Depression in Numbers
This post is called ‘depression in numbers’, and I haven’t really addressed that yet.
So far, I’ve talked about what you (someone who doesn’t suffer from depression) can do with me (someone who does).
But what about just us who are afflicted? We could all get together and talk about our feelings, sure.
Except when we’re so far down, we aren’t talking to anyone.
If today is a good day for me, then yes, I’m happy to help my friends in need.
We don’t have to talk, we can just sit around watching Gilmore Girls, or Marvel action movies, and eating popcorn, and you know that I’m here.
That’s enough for both of us.
If today is not a good day, but I have the energy to fake it, then no, it’s not a good day for depression in numbers.
It’s taking everything I have to be presentable and somewhat social. If you’re having a low day, then it takes so much more work for me.
Without meaning to, you might turn my day from ‘having the energy to fake it’ to ‘having no energy at all’.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends: it just means that today is not a good day for either of us.
We all need to work on recognizing this. Whether we are suffering from depression or not, recognizing our needs is a big step in coping.
Our needs change from day to day. Recognize what you feel today and address that.
One day at a time. That’s how we get through this.