Hey Guys! This is the 2nd entry in the “talk about it” series, if you haven’t read the previous entry it is all about what being diagnosed with depression was like for me, this entry’s going to have a slightly more warm tone to it, its going to focus on 7 small things people have done that made a big difference. There are 2 reasons I have chosen to focus on this, one is because knowing what depression is like is useful, but the last blog never really went into how you should treat people with depression, and I fully admit I still don’t know how to treat people with depression, as I said in the last blog it is very confusing, but what I know for sure is that these 7 things helped me. The second reason I wanted to focus on this isn’t really linked to depression at all, its because I believe that people are very capable of having very powerful influences on peoples life’s without ever realising that they have effected them in the slightest, and I strongly believe that if these people exist in your life and they have had a positive effect, then you should thank them for it, and that’s what this blog is partially hoping to do (though I have chosen not to refer to them by name in the blog, but I’m seriously hoping that they recognise it as them). So without any further distractions, let the list begin.
7. The time I was introduced to as a “really good friend”
One of the unfortunate things about depression, is your idea of how other people view you becomes somewhat pessimistic, you have to constantly remind yourself that people don’t hate you and you need to understand that you’r ability to read social situations and signals will be effected by this pessimism. I spend a large amount of time confident people are angry at me for being depressed. Thats why it was emotionally lifting and pleasing when one of my friends introduced me to some other students I had never met before as “my really good friend Steven”. It may sound simple, but it served as a reminder that my adopted view that everyone loathes me for having depression isn’t factual, and at least in this case was forged solely within my own mind.
6.The time I was bought an advent calendar 2 days after Christmas
I am usually completely obsessed with Christmas, and especially with advent calendars. Last year I had 5 of them. Unfortunately being told you have depression slightly sucks out the whimsy and magic of the advent series, and I didn’t buy any advent calendars. This brings me to December 27th when my Sister and her friend turned up with a bag which had an advent calendar hidden within it. This just acts as a small sign of good will that makes me remember I’m not alone. The gesture isn’t big enough to make me feel guilty about inconveniencing them, and it may seem small, but its definitely grand enough to be greatly appreciated. (I ate the entirety of the advent calendar within an hour)
5. When people say they understand, and when people mean it
It’s probably massively evident from the previous blog, that I don’t fully understand how depression works yet, and as a result I never fully expected other people to understand, which means when they look at me dead in the eyes and say they do and seem sincere it means the world to me.
4. Regular contact
When I got home there was a moment everything got really bad, while I was at university I had idealised home, I thought everything would become better when I got home and I would feel again, and it would be like when I was a child and you would just smile, because you had no reason not to. However I came home and things where much better, but its not the paradise I had allowed myself to dream it would be, there still low moments. When I was in one of these low moments I texted a good friend of mine and basically sent them several very long texts of confused hysterical ramblings, not only did they get back to me, but they’ve stayed in almost daily contact, I will get a text from them about 2AM and usually won’t see it until the morning, but it means you wake up every morning to something good, in a similar way to previous mentions, it serves as a reminder that my fear of being shunned and shoved into a taboo section of society as a result of depression is founded in my own falsity, not fact.
3.comforting physical contact
I am a sucker for physical contact, especially hugs. I bloody love hugs. But this point isn’t about hugs, and even though hugs are wonderful, and even though both hugs and a comforting hand on the shoulder manoeuvre can at times do wonders, this post is about a much more specific moment. I was in a club with two other friends, and I remember getting massively overwhelmed (I haven’t been able to deal with crowded areas since being diagnosed, I find them terrifying and horribly overwhelming), it was before I was diagnosed so this overwhelming sense of doom and terror was unfamiliar, and I remember looking at one of my friends in an absolute panic and I’m not sure how they knew, but they seemed to realise what was happening and grabbed my hand. It probably looked bizarre to my third friend who was there as I just stood there holding the second friends hand until I could calm down. This worked for me, because I enjoy physical contact, its hard to explain, but when I was full of such turbulent and destructive thoughts and emotions, my friend grabbing my hand introduced a third party, and a very calming one. It doesn’t always work, and it certainly won’t work for everyone as some people dislike physical contact, but for me it seems to.
2. Not judging me when I’m being slightly unconventional
Depression has brought out some unusual habits of mine, one of them in particular is fear. I’ve always been a bit of a coward, but being constantly in such a fragile state has made me worse. One particular example is I am very scared of the dark, I have nightmares almost every night, and I much prefer to wake up in a lit room where I know exactly where I am and what else is in the room. I remember a few weeks back watching a film with a friend, and I had confessed to him that I was really scared of the dark, and I didn’t notice initially but he hadn’t turned of the lights to watch the film. It wasn’t until about half way through the film until I asked him about it and he said he hadn’t, because he didn’t want me to be scared. One of the many negative feelings I have towards my depression, is a sense of shame, and insecurity about what it does to me, and usually I hide stuff like my fear of the dark and having someone know about it and just accept it and not push for information regarding the topic was wonderful, it showed a reassurance that they understood what was happening, and not pushing for information showed how they didn’t want me to be uncomfortable.
1. Making it clear your always there if needed
As I said previously I don’t understand depression fully yet. I don;t know when its going to spiral into something awful or when it’s going to be unbearable. Unfortunately mental health doesn’t follow a convenient 9-5 time slot, it can spiral at any time, and something my friends have done wonderfully is make it clear they are always available to talk if I need to, and they manage to do this while retaining a respectful balance of not pushing for information I don’t want to give, after all it is not uncommon for people with mental health problems to be insecure about it (though they shouldn’t be)
I’m sorry this was so long, I hope at least one person is still reading this far down. These are all examples of things people have done that have made a big difference to me in regards to making me feel better, as I said in the last blog it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone as everyone is different, but what I hope people take from this is the importance of small acts of kindness. Acts small enough that they don’t make the recipient feel guilty about inconveniencing you but at the same time make them feel better and make them feel supported. Yet again sorry this blog was so long. Steven 😀
p.s big thanks to nowisdomlikefrankness for placing a link to my blog in hers, I am not worthy of her far more articulate, witty writings http://thereisnowisdomlikefrankness.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/six-social-conventions-its-ok-to-ignore-at-christmas/