If You Are Sad, Please Tell Someone
A great light recently lost his battle against depression. The manic energy, laughter, and kind blue eyes of Robin Williams are no longer with us. Depression is a powerful foe. It is often misunderstood, feared, and in other ways stigmatized in our culture. This post is in honour of Robin Williams and helping others who continue to struggle with depression.
On the more personal side, I’ve been combating chronic depression since I was 13. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks and tools to help keep me healthy, active, and positive. There are plenty of self-help articles out there on the subject so I covered a few I haven’t seen elsewhere.
#1 – Dealing with people who don’t believe depression is real.
People like this are a harrowing experience when depressed. Over the years I have developed a tried and true strategy; science.
Depression physically damages the brain. Chemicals impair and shrink areas of the brain that control memory, conflict resolution, planning, and taking action. You’ll notice that all those areas are important for getting over depression.
The brain self-sabotages when depressed. The longer you’re depressed, the more difficult it is to overcome. That’s why it’s so important to get help early. Don’t wait for depression to go away. It doesn’t work like that. Your brain has betrayed you, relying on it alone for rescue is like asking hungry tigers not to eat you.
The damage makes you more likely to relapse into depression since your brain is wounded.
Many of the more irritating behaviours that depressed people exhibit are a result of this kind of damage. Things like failing to fill prescriptions for the millionth time and completely lacking any kind of proactive ability are common. This isn’t laziness or lack of willpower; the centers of the brain that help people do those things are impaired. They are, in fact, more difficult.
In my experience, linking depression to its physical manifestations on the human body makes it easier to connect to for outsiders.
#2 – Talking about depression to people who have never experienced it.
This is absolutely the best description of what it’s like to be depressed in the universe. Hyperbole and a Half may be a comic, but it has never failed me.
A cartoon as a strategy to communicate may seem silly but I find it connects with people. It makes it easier to get the conversation started. It reduces the amount of explaining and lightens the mood of what is by nature a grim topic. It makes things easier on both sides.
#3 – Feeling frustrated because there’s nothing you can do to combat what exists in the mind; either your own or someone else’s.
Wrong, there are lots of things you can do. This list of 10 is a great place to start for supporter’s of someone with depression.
My personal favorite is getting a great meal into a depressed person. You’re helping them get healthy, opening up an opportunity for conversation, and physically doing something. Good food is a universal expression of human connection. Physical activity can often feel beyond the abilities of a person with depression. A healthy meal is a great place to start the road of recovery.
Curing depression is often a team effort. Don’t go it alone. It’s way scarier and much more dangerous.
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