When you have a romantic or platonic relationship with someone who suffers with depression, you are forced to deal with things we can’t quite explain. Somedays, we’re happy, and you don’t have to look after us. Other days, we need you like we need air to breathe. We can’t control it, and we feel bad about it. But the thing you also have to understand is that if you are there for us, we’ll feel indebted to you; we’ll drop anything for you. We’ll be forever loyal because you helped us through a time that we couldn’t get through alone.
We are the worst and best people to be friends with. We might take up your time with our incessant need to feel loved, but we will also propel you forward in hopes that we can make you feel as great about yourself as you make us feel about ourselves.
Our thinking, like everyone’s, is a process, but ours can be a little more extreme. We can go from, “I just text him to meet me for a drink” to “He clearly hates me and thinks I’m worthless because he hasn’t text me back” in two minutes, and the cycle constantly repeats itself.
So if you have a friend or family member who suffers with depression, here are some things you should know about what’s going on in our heads:
We think in infinites.
I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve been so sad to the point of crying and thought, “Things will never get better.” And that’s so not true. Things always have room to improve, but a person suffering with depression can’t see that. We can’t see that emotions, all emotions, are temporary feelings that keep us from our purpose. We see them as everlasting; we can’t imagine a reality where we feel any better.
You have to accept that we think in infinites. We think in forevers. When we want to do something, we give it our all until we feel like we shouldn’t be doing it anymore – then we avoid it like the plague. When we’re sad, we think we’ll be sad forever. And when we’re happy, we wonder why we were ever sad in the first place, which coincides with the reality that…
Our emotions come in highs and lows.
We feel things so strongly when dealing with depression. When we’re sad, it’s the worst feeling in the world, and when we’re happy, it’s the greatest.
These feelings come back-to-back. One minute, we’re extremely happy and then the next we’re the saddest we’ve ever been. They follow each other almost instantly. We become that good happy – that feeling of, “I need to cry from how happy I am because I never thought I’d be happy again.” There is no middle ground because when there is, it’s painstakingly numb. We’re still not happy, and we’re anticipating the next low more than anything. And when we become sad again, it hurts so much because we don’t know how this happened because…
We can’t explain our reactions.
Once, I planned the best night ever. I planned to grab a drink at my favorite bar, meet up with my best friend, and then go out with a group of friends. I was on the way to my friend’s apartment when I became gut wrenchingly sad. I don’t know why. It wasn’t him, but I felt like all the happiness had gone away. I just needed to cry.
And that’s the thing; we can’t explain our feelings because they are reactions to unknown circumstances. These feelings don’t make sense to us, so we can’t explain it to you. We wish we knew what the problem was or how to make it go away, but we don’t. Triggers are sometimes everywhere and anywhere. Know that it hurts us and it makes us feel bad that these reactions affect the people around us.
We feel bad about our pain, but that doesn’t change the fact that we feel it.
People who have been through something as isolating as depression know that when we find someone or something that makes us happy, we never let go – and that can be a problem. Because when we realize that you can make us happy, we feel like our happiness depends on you. We feel like we will always need you.
And that means that when we’re sad, we go to you because you can make us happy. When we’re anxious, we go to you because we know you can settle us down. We depend on you, and eventually, we feel bad because we don’t want to trouble you with our problems because we care about you, and we don’t want you to become annoyed with us because…
We know we’re not good enough, but we hope you don’t realize we aren’t.
Our biggest fear is that one day, you’ll realize that we aren’t good enough for you, that you’ve finally realized that we are the burden we’ve always felt we were. You’ve finally understood that you deserve better than us, and we already knew that, but it just feeds into our anxiety that we’re destined to be depressed forever, that nothing will ever feel good again, and that we’re going to push away the only good parts of our lives. We feel like we’ll be alone forever. Because we think in permanent structures, in forevers, in infinites.
And the cycle continues over and over again…
So that’s what we need you to know. We need you to understand us. We want you to know how to deal with us because sometimes we need you to show us you care, and other times, we won’t. We need you to know that we appreciate you even though we know you may be frustrated with our emotions. We need you to know that we too are frustrated, and sometimes, we just need you. And above all else, the best advice I can give you is to remind us that you love us. Sometimes, just hearing that can make all the difference.