Monday, August 27, 2012

On Fighting

Any time someone is having a hard time, people always tell you to keep on fighting. This is especially common in dealing with adversity with regards to depression. People try and tell you to buck up, soldier on, and keep on keeping on (whatever the hell that means). 

What they fail to recognize is that people with depression HAVE been soldiering on. They have been fighting themselves every second of every. single. damn. minute. Depending on the severity, every word the hammer out on a keyboard, email they respond to, or time they open their eyes in the morning is a small victory that merits nothing short of a parade. But they don't ask for that because they know it is their own personal demons that they fight, and that they hardly need to fight an outside world that has a hard time sympathizing with a stubbed toe, let alone mental anguish. 

It is a quiet war happening in your office, school, favorite restaurant, church, and anaerobic basket weaving society. Someone there is dealing with it. 

What should you do when dealing with someone else who is depressed? That depends on the person and their level of suffering. And yes, I mean SUFFERING. Agony. All those fun words we like to throw around every time we are a little gassy after a burrito, but actually have real meanings. 

Some guide lines: 
1. Remember that they ARE NOT SAD! 
   People who are depressed are tired, weary, in pain. Sadness is a symptom, not a cause. It is the difference between the weather and the climate. Local weather trends are symptomatic of over all climate patterns, but are not a freak storm does not a climate make. Which brings me to point number...

2. Sometimes, people who are depressed, can seem happy and normal most of the time. 
  That is why some people are surprised when they find out someone is depressed. Never tell them they  were so happy yesterday, today, earlier, all the time.' They know how happy they have been. Depression is an intimate and vulnerable state. Many people who suffer from it have very happy looking defense mechanisms. It is to keep people from saying a lot of the things on this list and brings us to..

3. When they ask for space, give it. 
  Like I said, depression is an intimate and vulnerable state to find yourself in. If someone is depressed and they ask you for space/time/distance/silence, give it. It can take a few minutes to clear out the fog that depression puts in your head and severely skews your emotional responses. This means that when you push people, they can feel trapped, cornered and respond very.. poorly. This can range from open hostility and rage, to an enforced silence that could be permanent (towards you) if you are not careful. 
IMPORTANT: If someone with depression asks you for space, DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT YOU BY TAKING IT PERSONALLY. Of all the terrible things you can do, this can make things spiral out of control the fastest. 

I will have more on how to deal with depressed people later, but these three things can be damned hard on their own. Try them out and see what you think.

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