Talking About Depression

Last evening, Pete and I spent time with a dear friend of ours who has been battling depression for many years. I actually didn’t know this until last night. We were surprised when he suddenly broke down into tears. We held him and tried to provide him comfort. When he finally settled down, he shared with us that he’s growing more concerned about what he described as “his losing control over his emotions.” He said things seemed to be getting worse.

As an anxious person who has dealt with the stress and loneliness through humor, I wanted to comfort him but I was at a loss for words. I didn’t want to inappropriately inject humor into the conversation when he was clearly upset. It was hard for me because I find humor in nearly everything. I so wanted to say, “You’re depressed? I’m the one with the brown tooth.” But I knew that moment probably wasn’t ideal for poking fun.

So I simply said, “I don’t know what to say but I’m just happy you trusted us enough to share your feelings and for spending this time together.”

Did I handle this the correct way? I’d love to get other’s perspective.

Thank you!

 

9 thoughts on “Talking About Depression

  1. I think you handled it well. I’m on the other side – I’m the one with the depression. While I use humor to help myself often, if I’m trying to talk seriously about my fears and crazy emotions, I’m not usually so happy when the person I’m talking to makes jokes. I think that’s because I figure if they’re thinking up jokes, they’re probably not even listening. But that may just be me!

    Also, listening and comforting and saying supportive things like “I’m here for you…” are the never wrong (even if you happen to be a mental health professional – but in that case, maybe you do know how to help and that’s great, too). I think a lot of people on the listening side think the depressed person is looking for answers and solutions, and we are but we don’t expect them from our friends/family… We know it’s not that simple which is why we’re stuck where we are in the first place. When I open up to someone, it’s for support and love. I don’t expect answers or to be “fixed” (no matter how awesome that would be). Encouragement, love, support, knowing someone cares and is willing to listen… and hugs… lots of hugs.

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  2. I think you handled it perfectly. I saw a quote the other day about mental issues not being as well understood as physical ones, and how many people don’t see them in the same light, when in fact they are. I know from experience as a friend of yours that you have the utmost caring and empathetic soul. So your response was heartfelt and I’m sure it was appreciated. Your friends are lucky to have you.

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  3. I believe not using humor was a good thing. Being Bipolar doesn’t stop me from having a sense of humor, but there’s a time and place for everything. Not many people have the ability to truly listen to someone. I think most people are just lining up to have their say. Whether it’s about the situation or something completely different. When I was at my worst (Depression) my girlfriend for 1 month would send me these brilliant little affirmations. At first I couldn’t be bothered with them… that was the depression thinking. After the second week? I was looking forward to them! Clearly you don’t have to do that. I’m just sharing how that one text, that one very positive message to my phone everyday, pulled me out of a lonely space my head had taken me too. It was knowing someone truly cared. I sincerely hope your friend finds some kind of peace soon. Take care of yourself. Hugs Paula xxxx

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