Things To Not Say to Someone With Depression

In a writer’s life it can become easy to not write daily. We can’t let it become a chore either. It’s supposed to be fun. For our creative selves it’s important to nurture that side of our core. It’s a strength in many ways. It fuels several aspects of our being. That’s why I’ve created this weekly writing prompt.

This week’s writing prompt is “Things you shouldn’t say to someone with depression.”

I’ll share what I wrote first to help get you started. Check it out below!

I don’t remember when my depression started. But back then, I wished more people understood the language of depression, listened to what I felt, rather than offered their inspirational anecdotes or subjected me to their bouts of positive life reinforcement. The point is to start listening. Remember, depression is an illness just like heart disease or the flu, and so we need to delete these depression clichés from our vocabulary.

  1. There are people that are worse off than you. For me, depression was an island with no name. It held me in the sand, kept my feet heavy and my throat swollen so I could not speak its inexplicable name. To me, being trapped on this island was far worse than anything else I could imagine.
  2. I’ve been depressed before, once. After struggling with depression for more than three years, I couldn’t relate to situational depression. I felt diminished by people who repeated this to me, and it made me want to disappear even more.
  3. You’re always sad about something. The illness took me away from me, chained me to the couch, and pulled me away from the things I loved. This absence of life/living would make anyone sad.
  4. You’ll feel better in the morning. My depression got worse every day. Some days seemed lighter than others, but the light proved hard to find. 
  5. If you would just talk about your problems, you’d feel a lot better. Depression is death of the voice. It is the one illness that jails the tongue at the roof of the mouth.
  6. It’s not always about you. I wanted help, so I spoke about depression as if it were an old friend. I thought maybe someone would say to me, “you’re not alone.”
  7. You have to be more positive. This illness was another person that lived with me every day and night, and how this person was toxic and would not leave when I asked.
  8. You should treat yourself more. I treated myself to alcohol, cigarettes and sex. None of which ever helped me.
  9. This is just one bump in the road in a series of larger bumps. Depression was one large, never-ending bump for me. I realized late in the game that I had to take control over my life and get help.

Today, through a healthy regimen of medication, therapy, exercise and writing, I returned to parts of myself I’d left on that island. All the books I wanted to read, all the books I wanted to write topped my desk and smiled at me. Depression is not gone though; it is a face I now know. It is a she, a he, and a sunflower.  Depression is a field, with the depths of a sunrise unknown, and a patch of grass that grows in the desert.

I still struggle. I still think about the island, but I won’t go back. Life is full of contrasts: happiness and sadness, pain and comfort, survival and death. All deserve a place to stay, a home. For those of us who have lived out the contrasts, we have a choice of how long we wish to stay on either side. My hope is that our friends and family will recognize depression early, and understand that sometimes it takes just one person to say, “I’m here for you,” to restore our capacity to want to live (fully) again.


Your turn! Go!

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