You say you’re depressed – all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human. — David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
5. Just be happy.
Telling someone to cheer up is insensitive. It gives the message that you have no wish to understand or comfort them. It sounds harsh, but this is the truth. Asking someone to cheer up makes them uncomfortable in their own skin.
What to say: We are both here for each other.
“I lost all interest in my schoolwork, friends, reading, wandering or daydreaming. I had no idea what was happening to me, and I would wake up in the morning with a profound sense of dread that I was somehow going to have to make it through another entire day. I would sit for hour after hour in the undergraduate library, unable to muster enough energy to go to class. I would stare out the window, stare at my books, rearrange them, shuffled them around, leave them unopened, and think about dropping out of college. When I did go to class it was pointless. Pointless and painful. I understood very little of what was going on, and I felt as though only dying would release from the overwhelming sense of inadequacy and blackness that surrounded me. I felt utterly alone, and watching the animated conversations between my fellow students only made me feel more so.” —Redfield Jamison, Kay. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
6. Get involved. Get out of the house. Be active! Exercise!
Depression isn’t something you can snap out of. A depressed person already criticizes themselves and has pushed themselves to get better, but they can’t turn it off. Don’t demand, instead listen and accept. Be sincere. Offer your time to take a walk with them, watch a movie, or do anything else they may enjoy.
What to say: I know you are not in the mood to go out, but we should do something together!
“When you feel perpetually unmotivated, you start questioning your existence in an unhealthy way; everything becomes a pseudo intellectual question you have no interest in responding whatsoever. This whole process becomes your very skin and it does not merely affect you; it actually defines you. So, you see yourself as a shadowy figure unworthy of developing interest, unworthy of wondering about the world – profoundly unworthy in every sense and deeply absent in your very presence.” —Ingmar Bergman
7. Stop it with the self-pity!
Do not tell somebody who is depressed to stop feeling sorry for themselves. This is a cruel thing to express. Depression is not something people can turn on and off. Instead, make your loved one aware that you’re available to help in any way you can.
What to say: I was here before this, and I will be here during and after this.
8. I know how you feel. I was also depressed once.
Although you mean well, you cannot tell a person how they feel. Every individual is different. We forget that when somebody shares their hurt, they are extremely vulnerable and naked. They do not expect you to fully understand or solve their problems. They simply want someone, who listens and comforts. Hold their hand.
What to say: I don’t know what you are feeling, but you can count on me. I’ll try my best to understand.