Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness Nancy Virden (c)2013
Assuming our intention is to help and not hurt, here are some messages we would do best to avoid sending to a majorly depressed person.
“I’ll come and visit/ call tomorrow/ meet you there…” (If you won’t follow through) Broken promises are hurtful in any setting; for one who is severely depressed, they are poison. Broken assurances of support can break a heart. We must think before we blurt out good intentions or even devious ones.
“You’ve been doing this stuff for years.” Accusations of game-playing or manipulating for personal gain is unfair. Each of us has a hard enough time understanding our own motives; questioning those of someone who is confused is to assume information we do not have.
“I’m determined to fix you.” This may not be verbalized as much as expressed through attitude, demeanor, other comments, and demands. This is condescending, and while we hate it when anyone treats us like they are superior, so does the person with major depression.
“My problems are because you are depressed/bi-polar/unstable…” No one is a diagnosis. When referring to a condition we say someone has it. “She has major depression” shifts blame to the root cause.
We are responsible for listening, learning, and caring for our needs. Let’s not lay these issues on someone who is ill.
“Don’t you pull the suicide card on me!” Talk of suicide is serious. No one thinks about killing herself when all is well and the mind is whole. People who say something about it are in deep pain. We cannot judge who means it and who does not, that’s why emergency professional mental health care workers exist.
“You’re too much of a bother.” Dismissal is harsh; I don’t care who or in what situation it takes place. I’ve observed that no one who is struggling appreciates dismissal. Validation of one’s experiences and emotions is vital to recovery.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
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