Sometimes in public transport I see a person with scars on their forearms and I can't help feeling recognition. I know exactly what this person has gone or going through. I know what they might tell their friends, relatives or co-workers and I know what it really is. When somebody complains about feeling tired, down, low all the time, it is as if something ringing in my head. But I know that for those lucky people who have never experienced anything similar nothing is ringing.
So October is National Depression Awareness Month and I'd like to emphasize some facts that are obvious for people who has been there and not that obvious for those who hasn't.
1. Depression is an illness. Think about it before calling a person who has no will to do anything lazy, weak or whiny. Everyone needs a break from time to time to have fun and do nothing. If somebody feels bad most of the time and can't find strength to do something it is far from fun. It's painful in fact. It hurts even more to get criticized or laughed at.
2. Those who tell you about being depressed do tell it to get your attention. I've heard this many times: if somebody tells you they are depressed or suicidal they probably aren't serious, but probably just seeking attention. Why they chose such a way to get attention? Are they being manipulative? Maybe. Some people even self-harm to get attention because they need it so badly. A person may even not intellectualize it but do it out of impulse. But the fact that they even have such impulses says a lot.
3. Depressed people might be annoying. I know how it sounds but I have a right to say so. It is annoying to live with the person who rarely shares the fun, who never smiles, who's always sad or angry. It tires you especially if you don't understand what does your relative or friend or partner feel. Know, they don't do it to make you mad. They aren't naturally nasty or hateful. And it's not your fault that a person you love or live with is hard to be around. Once again, depression is an illness and it's manifestations are as annoying as someone's constant loud cough. The latter case is understandable because everybody knows a person is sick if they're coughing. It might be loud and annoying but understandable. Depressive talks and lack of smiles, whining, sarcasm, social isolation are understandable too once you know what they mean.
4. People don't choose to be depressed. A person doesn't choose to feel bad, they don't choose low self-esteem, they don't choose to feel pain. So they can't unchoose bad feelings and cheer up. It's not that simple. On the contrary one may feel so bad and wake up every day wishing for relief, wanting to feel good or rather to not feel so awful.
5. One does not have to have excuses for depression. One may seem to have no reasons to be depressed yet they are. They don't have to compare their lives to those of hungry African children to have an excuse for being depressed. Because there are no legitimate or illegitimate reasons for depression. Like I said many times, depression is caused by chemical imbalance in brain or post-traumatic experience. A person doesn't have to be in specific socially accepted as 'good' environment or situation for being depressed.
6. If you want to help - be there. If you suspect a loved one to suffer clinical depression and want to help - talk to them, surf for information on depression, try to understand and be there with them and for them. One of the things a depressed person needs is to know they aren't alone, that they aren't on their own, that they aren't abandoned and forsaken. Let them know you love and accept them no matter what - it means a lot, trust me.