I got a lot of feedback about my previous post on what not to say to a depressed person. I, myself, realized, after I finished writing, that my list seemed to eliminate most of the seemingly helpful things people actually say to depressed people, along with some of the more useless pieces of advice. So, have I thrown the baby out with the bathwater? I don’t think so, but let me explain. The purpose of the list was to describe, for people who don’t suffer from depression, what the mind can do to even objectively harmless and pro-social encouragement when it is weighed down under a cloud of darkness. The most positive and encouraging sentiments are quickly corroded in the acid bath of negativity, rendering them unhelpful at best and harmful at worst. This naturally leads to the question, “So, if I can’t even tell them that I love them, what can I say to them?” Check out this list of suggestions: 1. That must feel terrible… I’ve written before about the importance of validation, especially when it comes to getting someone to listen to your perspective. Much of the usual feedback given to depressed people is intended to be […]
So, What CAN I Say to Someone Suffering from Depression?
10 Things Not to Say to Someone Suffering From Depression
Depression is no joke. Which is ironic, given how many people mask it with humor, as the recent case of Robin Williams sadly demonstrates. I find it sadly amusing how many experts there are out there when it comes to dealing with the complex interplay between, society, psychology, and our internal biochemistry. Most of these experts are more than willing to share their homespun advice for the rest of us but the reality is that when it comes to helping someone who suffers from major depressive disorder, it’s rarely that simple. For example, try to avoid these common well-intentioned, yet potentially harmful pieces of wisdom: 1. Cheer up This is not useful advice. It’s like telling a sick person to be healthy. If that were possible, they wouldn’t be sick in the first place. Also, you don’t know the reasons behind the depression. Someone once tried to encourage a client of mine to smile more, seeing only their downcast face and negative body language. What they didn’t realize is that this person’s child had just committed suicide. “Cheer up” is an imperative that no one has the right to issue. 2. You Just Need to Find a Hobby To quote […]
Validating Your Brain: The Epic Conclusion
Click here for part 1 and part 2 Up to this point, my last two posts have tried to demonstrate a few key realizations: The brain is working primarily on an unconscious level. Because of this, we are rarely as aware of what we are doing and why as we would like to believe. The brain is well-intentioned and is trying to accomplish its sole purpose, surviving the moment. Because it is focused on surviving the moment, it will make decisions that favour short-term benefits EVERY SINGLE TIME, unless we override it. Because the brain operates primarily on the level of our unconscious, it usually communicates with our conscious brain indirectly. Often, it is trying to get our attention and we are not listening to it, which leads to the perpetuation of problem behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. If we learn to really listen to our brain, it will tell us everything we need to know. The final piece of this trilogy will attempt to focus on the final point I’ve listed above. Specifically, I’m going to be demonstrating how working together with your brain, instead of fighting against it, is the surest way to mental health and a better experience […]