Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Do's and Don't's of Depression, and They're Mostly Don'ts

Even in a depressive episode, I still need to write.  I have to keep those fingers on the keys.  It’s probably not good writing, but I feel compelled to put it out there.  I figure it’s better than shutting down, which is what I would do otherwise.

People want to help me when I’m depressed.  But some things they do actually make me feel worse.  So here are some tips on how to approach someone who is depressed or in a depressed episode of bipolar disorder.  Someone named “Me.”

In no particular order--

Don’t tell me to shake it off or snap out of it.  

Don't tell me jokes.  Slapstick might get a muted chuckle, though.

Don’t send me internet memes to cheer me up.  Seriously.  Do not do this.  It makes me question why we are friends.

Don’t tell me any variation of “hurry up and feel better because we need you.”  That is about the worst thing you can say.

I’m not just in a bad mood.  

I’m not grumpy.  

I didn't get up on the wrong side of the bed. 

I’m not just having a bad day.

I do not have PMS. 

It is not anything you did.  

Don't be too nice to me, because I will cry.  I'm an ugly crier.

Don’t command me to feel better.  Believe me, if I could feel better, you would be the second to know, right after me.

Don’t try to fix me. I just want to be heard and understood. 

I have been through this before. I know what will work.  I am not open to suggestions.

No, I cannot go back to bed and read a book and eat candy. I have to go to work.

No, I cannot take a bubble bath and call a friend.  I have to go to work.

No, I cannot sit down in the middle of the day and start drinking.  That would be about the worst thing I could do.  Besides, as I believe I mentioned, I have to go to work.

Don’t ask me what’s wrong.  I have a mood disorder.  That’s what’s wrong.   

My depression is usually proportional to the mania that preceded it.  But please don’t accuse me of not heeding my symptoms.

It might seem like everything you say will be the wrong thing.  In that case, it’s okay to say nothing.  But don’t ignore me.  I can see where this would put you in a bit of a bind.   

Yes, I am aware that there are medications I can take that will help me with this.  Yes, I have some.  Yes, I do take them.  No, I didn't forget to take them.  

Yes, I have heard that St. John's Wort has been used to treat depression.  No, I don't take it.  See above.

I may have moments where I have a little energy and even laugh a little.  This is not a sign that I am all better.  

I am not being passive-aggressive.  

I am not an attention whore.  

I am not a drama queen.

Don’t tell me that you are having a bad day, too.  That is like telling someone with a brain tumor that you have a headache.  Unless you have a brain tumor like mine.  In which case, I will totally scooch over to make you some room.  

Do ask me if I want to talk about it.  And let it be okay if I don’t.  

Do ask me if you can do anything.  And let it be okay if you can’t.  

If I say there is something you can do, please do it.  Without fanfare.  You went to the grocery store.  You did not give me a kidney.

Don't make me feel guilty about being depressed.    Sweet Jesus, whatever you do, don't tell me that I am missing out on the best time of my life right now.

I am not ungrateful for your attempts to make me feel better.  I do appreciate your concern and love.  But you have to tread very lightly around me if I let my guard down enough to let you in.

Doc, it's only a scratch

In the words of Rocky Raccoon, "I'll be better, I'll be better, Doc, as soon as I am able." 



  1. You have describe me to a T, except the going to work part. I shut down completely! I tend to have "small" manic episodes following the other ones, which always ends up not being good! This disease is exhausting and thank God for meds, although they don't always work and people to talk to, if you choose!

    1. I'm with you. I *may* go to work but I'll be a worthless POS all day or have to leave. Sucks.

  2. You want I should make Miso soup? xoxox

    1. Yes, please. I loves me some miso soup. And you.

  3. Right on! (borderline personality disorder with anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and PTSD.)

  4. Everything you said is so wonderfully true. I experience depressive episodes and it's hard to explain to other people that the only thing they can do is offer to be there if you need anything, but at the same time just leave you the hell alone. All us nutjobs are rooting for you. Let us know if you need anything. Now I'm gonna leave you the hell alone!

  5. It's good to read these words. That's really the only thing you can say to people who don't understand. And it's hard to be sick, where there is no ultimate cure. X's & O's babe!

  6. Hmm...Klonnie, sad to say we are more alike than I care to admit to. Because if I admit it, then I am admitting that I am once again declining backwards instead of forward. Things in my life are wonderful right now and all I can do is sleep! Love and Respect my dear friend!! <3

  7. You're a rockstar.

  8. This is brilliant. Do you mind if I post it on my refrigerator or maybe have it tattooed somewhere? O.o

    I'm sorry you're down too. Very seriously, reading your blog and fb page keep me up a little when I'm down and otherwise just make me feel less alone. You don't know what a difference that can make some days. Thanks, darlin'.

  9. Found your blog via "the crumb diaries" on FB. very lucky am I.

    This post is awesome. Hits home on so many levels.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Thanks. And if you need anything, let me know.

  11. It is so amazing that you are so honest and put stuff like this out there so people(me) don't feel so alone. When I'm going through, what I like to call my "dark periods", nothing pisses me off more than when my husband tells me to "snap out of it". People who don't go through it just don't get it. I thank you for your blog, you are an inspiration. I have awarded you with the "Fabulous Blog Ribbon" because, duh, your blog is fabulous. If you'd like to "pick it up" just stop by

  12. Im sorry your feeling terrible. One thing I hate is when people say "but you have so much to be grateful for, it could be so much worse" it makes me want to punch them in the face... anyway nice meeting you

  13. Nail in the head with these timely tips! Can't tell you how many relationships have ended because "He doesn't need me...He won't let me do anything for him". I NEED you to try to understand...That having failed, what you can "do" is carry on with your life, as I will mine.

  14. there's something kind of crazy about the "white album" as mr. manson so astutely knew - but i don't think rocky racoon was part of that stuff

    i try to keep pushin with writing and exercise - not letting the bipolar monster win, as the guy says in "bipolar for dummies"

  15. You are my hero for writing this post. I am beyond grateful to you for saying every single thing I have wanted to say for years. I hope you don't mind if I print this out and put is somewhere in my house for every one to see. Thank you!

  16. I cant express what this blog has done for me. I hate when my family tells me to "snap out of it." Nobody understands me. This just explained my dark times to a T. xoxo Birdy

  17. Thank you for putting into words everything I can not. I think I'm going to feel quite at home and comfortable here. I already admire you for being able to blog your feelings...I wish I could do that, but instead I'll probably just vicariously do it through reading your blog.

  18. Also, if I say off the wall things (that YOU consider "off the wall") like; “I'm ugly and feel like a monster!”, don't tell me I'm not, because at that particular moment, I AM and somehow being ugly and a monster is comforting, especially in the "ward"... It IS who I am, there's no way around it. It’s almost like a knuckle that has to be cracked or coughing up phlegm, you just have to do it and in our case, we have to let it take its course.

    Love me, love my moods. Being Bipolar can be looked at (if you are insightful enough) as "burning karma"... with insightfulness like those of us here, brave enough to own it and talk about it without shame, it makes us considerably more intelligent. Maybe in our next life we’ll be much closer to enlightenment (if that’s what you believe).

    We ACTUALLY know what to say to one another unlike the “layman”; we DON’T utter senseless, empty words. That’s called intellect and wisdom which they do not possess or comprehend. Most BRILLIANT and CREATIVE people are mentally ill… so FUCK the outsiders!

    I don’t need your sympathy, I don’t need your solutions, and I certainly don’t need you to REPAIR me… I have been through this many a many a many a many times, just make an effort to truly love me when I decide to show my face and leave me alone when I don’t! Let me scream, let me cry and try to LISTEN to what I’m saying; loving me can be a hug or a whisper; “I love you even like this” or “Can I do anything for you?” Sometimes, (most of the time) just simply listen and SAY FUCKING NOTHING!! Of course, unless I ask you a question …PLEASE THINK about what you’re going to say before you say it… If you really have no answer rather than giving an obscure answer (which WILL PISS us off) just say…”I don’t know”… that’s more honest than the BULLSHIT!

    If you say you love me, then you have to tailor your love to who I am SPECIFICALLY. YOU HAVE TO LOVE EVERYONE INDIVIDUALLY and in our case this is PART of who we are, it is not all of who we are.

    My favorite Quote in the world and so appropriate for Manic Depressive people’s loved ones, the common associate or stupid co-worker, etc.;

    “Skillful speech not only means that we pay attention to the words we speak and to their tone but also requires that our words reflect compassion and concern for others and that they help and heal, rather than wound and destroy”.
    ~ Bhante Henepola Gunaranta

    PLEASE understand that this is NOT the way I want to be; most of us have suffered through some psychological trauma(s) and we have triggers, sometimes those triggers are inevitable, unlike what TheRapist tells you; “Avoid these triggers”, most of them are just everyday fucking BULLSHIT circumstances that everyone goes through or as in my case I am a MAGNET for EXTRORDINARY BULLSHIT, that is usually UNBELIEVABLE to the lay person!

    Furthermore, when I am manic, NO I AM NOT ON Cocaine! And I am UNABLE to “calm down” and “be quiet”… SO FUCKING DEAL!


    Love and PEACE to all of you!

    I started a BLOG about my life; if anyone is interested, I have 3 posts…

  19. BTW, Mina K... you were my inspiration to start my blog and let it all out. Same with my dear, dear friend... "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you"... we just love your fb posts and this blog! Thank you!

  20. Wow. Just found you via FB. I am one of those people who doesn't 'get' it. I'm really fucking weird, temperamental, impatient, and anxious, but in a very consistent sort of way. No ups and downs.

    In all seriousness though, thanks for elucidating, and very eloquently at that.

    I have loved ones who suffer from MDD, and I always want to 'say the right thing.' Maybe I'll get it right next time, thanks to you...


  21. LOVE your blog! You describe it all so well- this should be required reading for family members. I just sent a message too, so I won't go into detail here.

  22. Humbled by your honesty...

    Printing this to put it at my door, having T-shirts done also!

    Panic_Attack_Mamma is not alone.♥

  23. I'm sorry, not to be offensive, but what exactly do you suggest others "do"? The Do's and Don'ts of this list are really just a bunch of don'ts... :-\

    1. You know what? That's not true. There are quite a few do's in there too. Read it again.

  24. You write so eloquently about something with which I am familiar. I thank you for that.

  25. Now why haven't I been able to come up with this list to explain it to those around me? Thank you for putting into words what so many of us struggle with!! Love your blog and your FB page!

  26. What a fantastic piece. People who deal with depression are so often misunderstood by people who have had the luxury of never having any significant difficulties controlling their mood. They too often tend to assume depressive "bad days" are just like regular bad days. So not the same. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help - thinking of you!

  27. Wish I read this before I dated my son's mom. She to has the label "Bipolar" attached to her. In my opinion Dr's use that term to freely. I have seen different degrees of it, my ex didn't come close to my mom but now I'm getting off track.

    A lot of this would of came in handy when dealing with my ex lol.

    No Rest for the Wicked,

  28. I feel like im in an episode of the Twilight Zone, I just happened across this while in a down period and it actually makes total sense in my mind AND was posted on my birthday, I dunno seemed weirder in my head.. Thanks for it though

  29. this described me and how i feel to a tee. i can be an upbeat person but my depression is directly linked to whether my fiance is living with me, we stay with my mom and our kids and whenever her and him fight she will kick him out. hes been kicked out for the last 4 months. i was crying to her on the phone today telling her i was depressed, she told me to snap out of it.

  30. here is another to add to this list: Don't tell me the story about the man with no feet. I don't care about the man with no feet. He has nothing to do with me. Fuck the man with no feet.

  31. Open letter to people who say they care about me...see above! Sharing, but not on the Facebook cuz that's where I get all those fucking platitudes.

  32. Here's another goodie to add to the list: Don't tell me to "just focus through it"

  33. I'm sorry you're in a downturn. I love you, lady. Let me know if you want to talk about it.

  34. 'No, I didn't forget to take them.'