**This has been on my drafts for some time now, but I finally feel like sharing.**
Don’t tell me to “just” think positive. “Just” build myself a routine, “just” socialize more, “just” change my perspective on things, “just” give it time.
There is nothing *just* about depression.
“Just” getting out of bed is a victory on some days. But you don’t know that, so you ask how’s work.
Survival is unpaid labor.
“Things will get better”, you say.
But how do you know? Are you an Oracle?
Do you know when? Is it this month? Should I make an appointment?
Should I pack my bags right away or do I have time for a sandwich?
You don’t know? Oh. Yeah. I don’t either.
There is a bet going around, and some days my money is on your theory: that I’ll live, I’ll survive. Even if I don’t see it, I know logically things can get better. Statistically, the possibility is there.
Some days, though, my money is on another theory, but you don’t want to read about that one. But every now and then, my money is on that theory. You never want to hear about us, but then you wish you knew, wish you could’ve done something.
You can do something, though. And I know you want to do something, because you give me your advice, your relentless, annoying positivity, your “silver linings”, your pleasantries, your rehearsed lines.
Your “silver linings”, while well-intended, are worth shit when it comes to my depression.
Grieving is weird when you’re grieving about your own brain. When you’re grieving what your brain has been doing to you, to your life, to your friends and family, for the past year. When you’re grieving an abstract hormonal war inside your body, what wonderful life-changing things you could be doing instead of “just” surviving. So let me grieve. Let me vent, let me rant, allow me that space to feel awful, to feel helpless. Hopefully, to feel hope sometimes.
I’ve been you, okay? And I know it can get uncomfortable. There is a void, an emptiness that is there. I know you feel it, and you feel responsible for filling it, but you’re filling it with more emptiness, more space between us. And ultimately, this is not about you. I am a pretty selfless person (as far as naturally-selfish people can be selfless, I guess; another topic for another time), but I need to be selfish about this if I want to heal. My mental health is not about you. And when you fill perceived blanks with your disturbingly oblivious and often ableist phrases to decrease your own discomfort, to feel like you’re doing something good, you are mostly doing it for you. And I need to repeat myself on this: MY MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
I am well aware that you cannot know what I need, what many people with depression need, unless we tell you. So here I am, telling you: Shut the fuck up. Listen.
Instead of your unwanted (because, let me remind you, this is all about consent as well) advice, suggest activities we can do together if you want, if I want.
Instead of your positivism, feed me donuts. Any day.
Instead of your well-intended, but ultimately condescending, “logical” statements, give me validation. Give me hugs (but ask first).
Instead of the rehearsed lines you’ve probably been told yourself, the ones we hear everywhere and get us nowhere, rehearse these ones:
“I’m here.” “I’m sorry you feel this way.” “That absolutely sucks, you’re right.” “What can I do?” Hell, even “shit, I don’t know what to say, but I’m here” is perfectly acceptable.
I need to know there will be people who aren’t too tired to show up. Because I am fucking tired sometimes.
I do want you to be here, don’t get ever get that wrong. But actually be here, with me.