When “I” is replaced with “We”, “Illness” becomes “Wellness”. ~Shannon L. Alder

Posted: February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Speaking as someone who suffers with depression and as someone who has people in her life that suffer from depression, I would like to share my thoughts on both sides of the situation.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know I love memes.  I love funny memes and punny memes and sad memes and thought provoking memes.  Most of all I love inspirational memes.  I see memes as a way of condensing my thoughts into something more manageable and memorable than a blog post.  They speak volumes in a few amount of words that stick with you.

That being said, I saw a meme today that really struck a cord with me.  I will attach it to this post when I am done.

First, as someone who suffers with depression, I often feel alone.  Even when I am surrounded by people that I know, for a fact, love me more than words can say.  I adore these people, I would do anything for them.  I know they would do anything for me.  Yet, somehow, at times…I still feel alone, even with them right here.  That is part of the lie that depression tells you.  It tells you that you are alone.  So alone that you may as well be invisible.  I have tried antidepressants and they do not help me the way they help so many other people.  I practice cognitive behavior therapy.  That works for me.  It helps me to pull myself out of that negative, dark place that I find myself disappearing to.  It means more to me than you will ever know when someone sends me a message or a text.  I feel like I am seen, like I am really here.  But when I receive calls, that can be an entirely different thing.  Oftentimes, I shy away from the phone when I see someone calling.  I love them.  I want to talk with them, but I am too tired emotionally to interact.  I call back when I am out of that place.  When I am back to feeling like my emotional happy bank is full again.  That is another thing about depression.  The highs and the lows.  They can be brutal.  I hear all these suggestions, like express yourself in your writing or paint a picture. But when you are in that dark place it takes so much to do anything creative.  So do you now what I do?  I make myself get out of my bed and I make the bed!  I make it so well that there is no way I will climb back in, messing up my beautiful artwork.  Did I just call making my bed beautiful…artwork?  Yes.  Yes I did!  I made it and it is beautiful.  Then I make a cup of coffee and I put it in my favorite coffee cup.  My daughter got it for me for Christmas.  It says, ‘Isn’t she lovely’.  I take a sip of that yummy goodness and I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment because I made it.  And I made it well.  And it is good. Then I put on clothes.  Like, real people clothes.  Not pajamas, not work attire, but go for a walk kinda clothes.  Even though I know I probably won’t go for that walk, I put the clothes on anyway.  It gives me more options for what I may want to do that day.  After my coffee and some breakfast, I brush my teeth and then brush my hair.  Maybe put in a braid. I feel better. Not great, not write a novel or paint a canvas kinda better.  But I am up and I am alive and I am taking care of myself, kinda better.  No one can do that for me.  But do you know what you can do?  When you see me post that I made my bed, know that I did something amazing.  Tell me good job.  Celebrate with me.  If you come by and see that I am up, dressed and bed made, hug me for a job well done.  Hugs are a saving grace during depression.  Even when I am in my dark place, a hug shines in a little light.

Now, speaking from the place of someone who has depressed people in her life.  That is a tricky part.  Because I cannot know what they need, since their moods and feelings go from high to low.  If I send them a text and they do not respond, I know not to take it personally.  I know that they saw the text and smiled a little.  I know I let a small bit of light into their world.  And I know that they will reach out to me when they are in a better place.  I know that I can be here for them, when they need me.  Hug them, be here for them and reach out to them without expecting anything in return.  A kind word, a kind text, a kind meme, a hug.  Those are the things I can do.  Well meaning advice only upsets them and causes them to crawl deeper into that dark place.  They feel like they are failing at life because they cannot do the things you are advising them to do.  Advice is only to be given when it is asked for.  That is a very difficult thing to do.  As someone out of the dark place, I want to share the ways I escaped it and how I keep it at bay.  But sharing those things with someone who is not ready to hear it, only hurts them.  It’s like taking someone who can’t swim and throwing them in the deep end.  It doesn’t work out very well and teaches them to fear the water.  You have to wait until they step into the shallow end and wade around the water for a bit.  You have to wait until they see you swimming and they say…can you teach me to do that?  Now, when that happens, do not try to teach them to swim.  Send them to your swim coach.  Let the professional teach them.  Remember, your job is to offer a kind word, a kind text, a kind meme or a hug.  And  now, the number of someone who can best help them.

So those are my thoughts on this subject from both sides of the coin.  Please never give up on those battling mental illness, but remember the boundaries.  Reach out without expecting them to reach back.  Just because they don’t respond, doesn’t mean you are not making a difference in their life.  Reach out and keep reaching out.  Don’t give up.    Like the meme says, When “I” is replaced by “We”, “Illness” becomes “Wellness”.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read.  x

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