I’ve been wantig to post this up for a while, but I haven’t. I keep wussing out and posting other things instead. The reason is, I’m scared. You see, this isn’t my usual “if people want to help you here’s how they can” or “it’s not as bad as it might seem” post. It’s a bit more demanding, and a bit more critical. But I really feel it needs to be said, so here goes:
(Bear in mind that these are my personal opinions only, and I welcome discussion on anything I mention here.)
The Responsibilities of Depression
So far in my blog I’ve spoken about the strains that an invisible illness like depression can put on your life. I’ve talked about the things you can do to ease those strains, and about what friends can do to help you. I’ve mentioned how you have a right to have your illness recognised, and how there are some things you can’t always do.
So that’s rights, but what about responsibilities?
Is there anything that you, as a depressed person, should do?
Is there anything people can reasonably expect of you?
I believe there are.
Your friends are there for you. They want to help. And they do help.
Sometimes when you’re in the depth of depression you just can’t manage to thank them, and often they’ll understand that (or at least accept it). When you’re on a good day, though, you need to remember the people who helped you when you weren’t so good, and let them know they’re appreciated.
I know a lot of people who will go out of their way to help even when they know you won’t be able to thank them, but I know very few who can keep doing it with a happy heart when they get no acknowledgement of it even when you have the time and the spoons to do so.
So if someone has helped you in the past don’t just remember it, let them know you remember it!
Again, this is something that goes out the window when you’re in the dark spiral. No matter how hard you try your brain won’t respond to reason. I’ve had times when I’ve *known* that everyone hates me, and the fact that they won’t drop everything right now to help me even when I haven’t told them that I need help is proof of that! Like with the above point, the key is to try and remember afterwards what you were unreasonable about, and let people know that you didn’t mean it, and that you were having trouble thinking straight.
Many people have trouble understanding what you face when you suffer from depression. Many people have trouble understanding why certain things bother or upset you. I do my best to explain things in this blog so that they can start to understand you.
But do you understand them? Do you really understand how hard it is for them to understand a completely alien way of thinking? Have you taken into account that not only does your brain work differently from theirs, but their brain works differently from yours!!
Now, I don’t believe that anyone can fully understand another person’s point of view. It’s what makes us all unique. But you have to at least try!
As far as I’m concerned, there’s a huge difference between a reason and an excuse. Depression is a reason why sometimes you can’t face getting out of bed. Depression is a reason why you have trouble getting all your jobs done. Depression is a reason why sometimes you don’t think clearly, or get snappy for no reason.
Sometimes, however, any reason can slip into being used as an excuse. This is particularly problematic with depression, as often sufferers think that they’re just using it as an excuse when they’re really not.
For this one my advice would be to think about the difference between a reason and an excuse, and to think about the things you’re blaming on your depression and figure out whether the depression is a reason for them (you’re trying to change it but you just can’t, or are changing it but it’s happening slowly) or an excuse for them (you haven’t tried to change them, or at least haven’t tried very hard, and blaming depression lets you stop thinking about it)
Once you’ve thought about it and decided that depression is a valid reason for something then stick with that and don’t feel bad about it, but at least consider it first!
As someone who suffers from depression I know how important a support network is. It’s a huge comfort to know that there are people out there who’ll help you out if you need it. But what are your responsibilities when it comes to a support network?
1) Don’t rely on just one person.
No one person can take on all of their own problems, as well as many of yours. No one person can be there for you always. If they love you they may try to be your one rock and anchor, but that way lies depression and despair for them too, as they break down from the stress. Please, don’t do that to anyone!
2) Know they’re not psychic.
They can’t help if you don’t ask. Don’t blame them for not knowing if you don’t tell them.
3) Everyone has their own lives to live.
If they can’t be there for you right now because of something important in their own lives then accept that and ask someone else in your network. (If you desperately need their help then make sure they understand that, as mentioned above. They may not leave a family wedding to help you when you’re feeling low, but could be more than willing to do so if you’re feeling suicidal and can’t think of anyone else to ask!)
4) Sometimes they need support back.
Obviously if you’re suffering too it’ll be hard to give other people support, but if you’re feeling up to it then do it. Trust me, it’ll help you feel better about yourself as well as helping them through a hard time.
*Do something about it!*
This doesn’t necessarily mean going to a psychiatrist or getting medication, but do *something* to try and improve your life and how you can cope with your depression. Even if it’s just a case of tidying a room so you have one less thing to be stressed about, or taking some time to yourself and trying to sort through your feelings, or talking to someone and trying to work out how best to deal with problems you’ve been having, do it! Sometimes it’s tempting just to give in and assume that life is shit and there’s nothing you can do to change that, but if you don’t try to make yourself better or to deal with your problems then how can anyone else?
Make a plan. Try to figure out what would make you happy. Strive for something. Don’t just let depression drag you down. Please! No-one wants that!
So, do you think I’m being to harsh here?
Do you think that I’m asking to much of people who are already coping with too much?
Or have you something to add that you think needs to be considered? Something I’ve missed?
Please let me know! I’d love to hear from you.