[personal profile] elvenpiratelady
I want to talk for a little bit about depression.

I don't have depression, but I am  affected by it. I have two people in my immediate family with depression. I have friends who have depression. And it is horrible to know that they are struggling with this thing and not know how to help them. I feel helpless a lot of the time when I read about depression and when people write about their experiences with it - because however good your imagination is, however many articles you read, whoever you talk to about it and try to put yourself in their shoes for a while - we, the people who don't have depression, will not be able to understand the people who do have it. We can try to understand what happens in the body and what the effects are, but we can't understand what it's like to be depressed. We will never be able to fully understand it.

It is fucking awful seeing someone you love struggling with this illness and not knowing how to help them. In the greatest sense, there isn't much you can do to help them - you can't get into their brain and pump up the serotonin production, and you can't magically think someone into not being depressed. If only it was that easy.

So what the fuck can you or I do?

You love that person, and show it. You listen to them when they want to talk, you hug them, you spend time with them, you make an effort to get in touch with them even if it's just a 'hi how are you?' text, you try to make sure they know that you are there for them. (For example, I just sent a text to someone I know who has been diagnosed with depression - basically 'hello, how are you? I'm think of you, love El'. I'm not expecting a reply - not because this person has depression, but because they have a bad track record of answering texts - but that's not the point. You send a message out to the person to let them know that you're thinking of them, and that's the best you can do.) You understand that this is not something they are doing on purpose, and it's not something they can control.

And if you do all those things and the person you love still has depression, you keep loving them. Keep at it. It can feel like you're wasting your love on that person because they're not getting better. It can feel like you're not doing enough for them, that they'd only recover if you loved them enough. But the thing is: it's not in your control to make that person better. You love them and support them as much as you can, but in the end it is up to them. It is not their fault that they have depression, but it's not your responsibility or within your power to cure them of it either.

Here's the thing: loving someone with depression will not cure them of it, but it just might make their lives a whole lot more bearable. So if you know someone who has depression and you want to help them deal with it, learn about it. Google 'depression information' and thousands of pages come up. Even Wikipedia is a start. Understand that it's not just a 'bad mood' and that the affected person should just 'snap out of it'. Correct other people when they don't have the facts right. Talk about it - there is a stigma over depression, as if it's either far too shameful to admit to having or so minor that it's not worth bothering about, and it's neither. Depression kills people and keeping silent about it kills people.

This is what we can do to help people with depression: give them love, and understanding. It will not make them recover, but it will (hopefully) make things easier for them. That the only thing, the most important thing we can do for the people we love.

Date: 2011-04-19 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eglantine-br.livejournal.com
Part of having depression is feeling guilt. We feel that the world would go on without us, quite a lot better, actually. And that we are spoiling the fun for the regular people.

Having someone reach out really matters. We just may not be able to reach back.

The thought that you have put into your friendships is moving to see.

Date: 2011-04-20 09:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
I suspect that a lot of the guilt is from not having anyone talk about depression? Which means a lot of false information gets spread around, which leads to more guilt... fucking awful circle of reasoning, I must say. Which is why society in general needs to talk about it more and get rid of the stigma.

Thanks for commenting.

Date: 2011-04-20 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eglantine-br.livejournal.com
Yes. that is true. But I think the free floating guilt is just part of it too.

Date: 2011-04-20 09:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
Also! Here is a hug macro to share some feelings. (Not trying to be creepy, I swear, if you're not comfortable accepting internet hugs from a complete stranger then that's fine.)


Date: 2011-04-19 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cassie5squared.livejournal.com
*hugs* Thank you. You've made a fantastic case.

I suffered from depression for over two years. I managed to hide it most of the time, but people refused to let me just "deal with it myself" and kept making me be around them.

That probably saved my life. It definitely held me together enough to pull myself out of it.

So thank you again, El, for posting this.

Date: 2011-04-20 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
I'm glad people reaching out to you helped, even though it might not have felt like it at the time? That's what makes me feel so awkward a lot of the time, and non-depressive people might think that they're annoying people with depression or not being close enough to them for it to be welcome if they try to reach out, and if no-one reaches out to people with depression they feel isolated... it sucks, basically. I don't know how to fix it, but talking about the problem can only help it, right?

You're welcome.


Date: 2011-04-20 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cassie5squared.livejournal.com
I can't speak for everyone who suffers from depression, but in my opinion, yes, reaching out is always, always better than not. I wasn't particularly close to some of the people who talked to me - they were just neighbours, mostly my own age and younger - but their concern helped me so much.

And yes, talking about it can only help.

Date: 2011-04-19 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vampirynka.livejournal.com
thanks for the post. just googled some info, it was helpful

Date: 2011-04-20 10:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
I'm glad it helped.


Date: 2011-04-20 01:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minviendha.livejournal.com
I love you, and I love you for making this post, and I love this post.

Just...as the tag on my journal says, 'thank you so much for being awesome.' Can I link to this? Just in conjunction with my last post?

Date: 2011-04-20 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
You are always, *always* welcome. Link away if you think it will help.

[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<img [...] srchttp://pics.livejournal.com/elvenpiratelady/pic/00033ww0>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

You are always, *always* welcome. Link away if you think it will help.

<img srchttp://pics.livejournal.com/elvenpiratelady/pic/00033ww0 alt="ninageorgehug" />

Date: 2011-04-20 10:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
Ahem, I mean:


Date: 2011-04-23 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sheiannasherra.livejournal.com
As someone who has been dealing with depression for most of my life may I commend you on this post of awesomeness! You have this so absolutely right! Thank you!

Date: 2011-04-23 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elvenpiratelady.livejournal.com
I'm glad it helped, somehow? Thankyou for reading.




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