Home > Uncategorized > What You Really Need to Know (A Follow-Up Post to ‘You Never Really Know’)

What You Really Need to Know (A Follow-Up Post to ‘You Never Really Know’)

The response to my previous post, You Never Really Know, a post about depression, took me by surprise.  I hoped it would resonate with people, but the reaction went way beyond my expectations.  The number of views, significantly more than I normally get, were staggering, but more than the page hits, the emails and messages from people stunned me the most.  People I know and don’t know contacted me to tell me about their own struggle with depression or about someone they knew- a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or someone else close to them.  So to those of you who read what I wrote and then linked, liked, reposted, emailed, told somebody, or did whatever you did to spread the word about what I’d written, thank you.

I’d wanted to write about depression for some time.  I made several attempts over the past few months, none of which I liked, and all of which I deleted, never to be seen again.  The ideas and thoughts and sketches remained in my blue spiral notebook along with the rest of my half-finished ideas.

Until that Thursday at lunch when I went to a bike shop and ended up talking to the owner.  We’d never spoken before, but something compelled me to tell him about Bill (not his real name) and what a great employee Bill was.  I expected a “thank you.”  Instead, I got something totally different as the owner told me about Bill, his depression, and what had taken place.

For the rest of the day, I kept turning the conversation over in my head, trying to make sense of what I’d been told.  By Friday, I began to compose my thoughts in a post, not sure if this one would end up getting deleted as well.  After the second or third draft, I sent a copy to the wife.  She liked it as is, but Saturday morning, I tinkered with it some more, maybe an hour or so, before I hit the publish button.

By the time I’d changed clothes and gone downstairs to go for a bike ride, to ride on the bike Bill had helped me select, messages, emails, and texts were already coming in.  I was taken aback as I normally don’t get that quick of a response.  And then later in the day Rick Warren’s son committed suicide after a long struggle with depression.

Sometimes, you never really know.

My goal was to show people who experience these symptoms, who struggle with depression, that they weren’t alone.  Other people, unfortunately too many other people, people who look just like they do with families and jobs and friends and other things like them, fight with depression as well.  Most importantly, I wanted people to know help exists, and it’s okay- it’s really okay- to ask for help.  And to keep asking until you the help you need.  Seeing a doctor or a therapist in invaluable.  Sometimes, even a prescription is needed and there’s no shame in that either.

I also wrote it for those who have no firsthand experience with depression, but who have family members or friends fighting this battle.  I hoped to help them understand how a person with depression suffers.  Unless you’ve been through it, depression makes no sense.  It seems incomprehensible.  Can’t you just look at your surroundings, at your life, and see all the good things you have?  Can’t you just determine to have a different outlook?  It’s not that easy.  You don’t get better after a good night’s sleep or a couple of cookies or a night out at the movies with a friend.  Heck, some days you don’t want to get out of bed, and other days if you got near the cookies, you might eat the entire batch and wash it down with a tub of ice cream.  Or you’d really, really want to.  Calories are the least of your concerns.

Getting over depression isn’t just a matter of cheering up or waiting for things, whatever those things might be, to turn around.  It’s a battle with your own mind.

If you know someone with depression, know this:  Getting better takes time.  Sometimes, better is learning to cope, figuring out how to live with depression, to steer through the black clouds when they come, to navigate the ups and downs, the good days and the bad days.

But also know this:  a person with depression needs a friend- a real, true, bonafide friend.  Someone who will be there no matter what.

What you should understand is that depression lies and leads you to believe you don’t matter and hope doesn’t exist.  Life is futile, worthless, meaningless.  It’s like the writer of Ecclesiastes- “all of life is meaningless”- intensifed by a hundred.  Depression falsifies the way you see reality and the people around you and it tries to isolate you from those who can really help by telling you, “If they really knew…” or “They really don’t care…”

But a person with depression, like all of us, needs someone who will listen and not judge, who will be near and not try to fix you because not everything can be fixed.  At least right away.  The role of the friend is to be there.  To be present.  To encourage.  To listen.  To sit with.  Maybe to get you out of the house.  To change the subject from something other than depression and why you are depressed because, well, you live with your depression 24 hours a day and from time to time you’d prefer the mental break of talking about something else like a movie or a show or a book or someone else’s crazy relatives or out of control kids.  Occassionally, occassionally, they might need you to get in their face and drag them out of bed or to tell them to go see a doctor.  Your phone calls and texts and emails are invaluable (although every hour on the hour might be overdoing it).  They need you to understand as best you can even though their depression might not make any sense at all to you.  Depression doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what you really need to know about a person who struggles with depression- On good days and bad days, in light and dark, amidst struggles and successes, remember this, always remember this:

They.

Need.

YOU.

Again, thank you to everyone for passing along my previous post, You Never Really Know.

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