First, I applaud most everyone who shares their thoughts, experiences and testimonies on Thought Catalog. As a contributor, it takes an amount of courage and vulnerability to offer your work to the Internet. It’s like walking into a circle of bullies and asking for a sucker punch. So ultimately, I commend Dante for his piece. And as someone who has dealt with depression, I’ve felt these emotions myself.
I noticed in the comment section, people were brutal. But some readers did offer a fair question: “What do I say to a depressed person?” And while the word “depressed” is debatable itself, here are personal epiphanies and things that were said to me that helped when I was at the very least, in a dark place.
Disclaimer: There are so many different mental illnesses, so I understand not everything will be applicable to everyone. And I also recognize that some pain is so deep, so chronic that it can only be resolved with therapy and/or medication. But for the pain that can be subsided without those aids, here you are.
“You are not your failures.”
If you know someone suffering from low self-esteem or going through what feels like an impossible grieving process, remind them that they are not defined by their faults, rejections or shortcomings. Remind them of the sincere qualities they possess that make them worthy of happiness.
“You can spend your whole life trying to be satisfied or content or getting answers. Why not spend your life ….living?”
Wise words said by one of my best friends. Sometimes, we can become so absorbed in our own thoughts, problems and worries that we forget to notice there is a whole world waiting for our impact. While you’re trying to figure why something happened, go make something new happen.
“Things will never get better until you stop being bitter.”
You know when people tell you “the most you stop looking for love, you find it”? It’s somewhat like that with happiness. The moment you stop having tunnel vision on your depression, your prospective will change. You may even be more at peace than you thought.
“Just know there are a million people in the world experiencing a similar pain. Be one the ones that heals.”
This may actually appear insensitive. Perhaps it is to some people. But I remember finding such an unusual comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who has dark periods of turmoil. And I think of the thousands of people who will overcome whatever painful situation I am going through. And yeah, I do want to be one of the strong people.
“One thing is certain: The things that don’t make sense or don’t seem fair are the very same things that make you stronger.”
So basically I am paraphrasing a catchy pop song and a platitude older than Earth, but it’s so true. I believe God doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle. Pain teaches us empathy, perseverance and patience.
After being assaulted a couple of years ago, I had so much anger towards the world. And while I will never be happy about the experience, I know that being so brutally hurt, both emotionally and physically, is the very reason I can step up to others and see that I am not my abuse.
“Would you like to go see someone?”
Sometimes, we all need a little intervention. We want someone to give us the nudge we’re afraid to take. Offering a suggestion like therapy is not a cop-out or an insult, it’s saying, “It’s okay to take your pain seriously, and take care of it properly.” Also, the occasional therapy session is awesome! It’s like having a profound sounding board.
Attempt to find the root of the issue
Maybe this takes probing and an in-depth, raw conversation, but a listening ear can lead to revelations and breakthroughs. And I mean really listen when they speak; so often a friend or my mom was able to read me like a book.
“You were created to live a magnificent life. What demons are stopping you?”
Similar to getting to the root of the problem, but remind them that they were created in God’s (or whoever’s) vision. Life was given so that the soul could manifest. Remind them that their life was meant for something, and they should honor that.
My best advice: Just do not brush off their pain
What I found so hurtful in the comment section was the vast amount of “Get over it.” No one wants to feel helpless, so please just try to help them. Of course there’s a difference between wallowing and suffering, but listen and extend positivity and sincerity.