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Dancing with Depression
Dancing with Depression

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a health and relationships writer with a special interest in depression thanks to her own firsthand experience. She’ll share everything from her difficult diagnosis to how she learned to take the lead and dance with depression for the last 15+ years. Get ready for a wild and equally informative ride!

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Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who’s Depressed?

I recently read an article about the things that you shouldn’t say to a person who is depressed. I was drawn to the article because I could see how some things could drive you (me) up the wall while depressed and prove pretty useless, but at the same time I found that a lot of the things that were on the list really did help me, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

The more I learn about other people’s experiences with depression the more I see that no two people’s experiences are exactly alike, so to say that certain statements should never be uttered to someone who’s depressed is right up there with expecting  that the same medication and treatment should work for everyone.

Some examples of these statements include:

  • “You need to keep busy or get out more.”
  • “You can control this.”
  • “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
  • “It’s all in your head.”

Did any of those irk you or get under your skin? Again, I can see how they could, but in my case I can honestly say that being told those things on a fairly regular basis while depressed may have done me some good. Maybe it was hearing it from my family that made it somehow okay or the fact that it was coming from my older and wiser relatives that gave it some sort of credibility or at least gave me a little hope. The fact that there was some truth to them also made them easier for me to stomach since even back then, I wasn’t one for sugar-coating or being coddled. I needed tough love even if some days hearing those words made me want to punch someone in the face.

The truth was that getting out more and keeping busy really did help. Sure, going out or busying myself with something may have been the last thing on my mind when I had a cloud of misery hanging over my head, but if it weren’t for my mother saying it and actually getting me out of the house and reasoning with me about how keeping busy could make me feel better, lord only knows how long I would have just stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself. And while depression is not just a bout of self-pity, I did definitely get to a point where I was wallowing in it and wondering “why me” more often than I care to admit.

As for it being “all in my head”, it turns out it was! Don’t get me wrong; depression is very real and my symptoms were NOT imagined, but even with a chemical imbalance having been to blame for my depression, which is in my brain and therefore in my head, I do know full well that I let my imagination get the better of me and did contribute in getting myself considerably more worked up on several occasions.

And could I control it? Somewhat. I couldn’t control the chemical imbalance or my moods while my body was doing what it was doing, but by taking back some control by getting myself out and really making the effort to not let it ruin my life, I do feel like I managed to work through it and learned to cope with it a lot faster than I would have had I just sat back and believed there was nothing I could do about it.

As for the things on the list that I agree you shouldn’t say to someone who is depressed:

  • “You never think of anyone but yourself.”
  • “Cheer up.”

Hearing those two things made me want to scream and made me feel as though I wasn’t being taken seriously or as if the person saying it didn’t really believe that there was anything wrong with me.

That’s just my two cents on that list and a few things to consider when talking to someone with depression.

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About the Author

Depression Blogger

Adrienne is a health and relationships writer with a special interest in depression.