Depression and Misery

Wednesday October 30, 2019

Well, that's a cheerful title, isn't it!

Sorry, not today.

Those of us who suffer with depression are used to people thinking that we are (just) unhappy.

"Cheer up, girl/mate! It may never happen!"

"Put a smile on your face and you'll feel much better!"

"Take a brisk walk in the fresh air. I do that when I'm down: works a treat for me!"

I normally meet these comments and those like them with a polite smile on the outside and something utterly unprintable on the inside.

Harder to deal with than the above, is the caring and sympathy.

"Oh dear, what's wrong?"

"Come on, you can tell me!"

"I know what you're going through and you have all my support."

All I want sometimes is to be left alone. And, conversely, I want to have the option of crying onto an absorbent shoulder if I want to.

To put this into context, a while ago I lost a good friend – or rather (I hope) I temporarily mislaid a good friendship. As always, it was a case of miscommunication: but the more was said, the more hurt was caused, so I backed away.

Another friend, Bob (his real name), noticed something was wrong and texted. He didn't ask for specifics; he didn't pretend to know what I was going through; he didn't demand I tell him; he just offered me his (absorbent) shoulder and/or that of his wife, if I needed it.
This time, it hasn't been depression, it's been unhappiness. I've lost something precious, and I'm miserable.

I did ring Bob. He put me on speakerphone, so I spoke to him and his wife, and for an hour I sobbed onto their four very understanding and supportive shoulders. It didn't lessen the unhappiness, but it did reassure me I'd done the right thing – and indeed could have done nothing else.

If I look back to the times when it's been depression, when nothing has been wrong, but I've just been ill - I didn't need a shoulder onto which to pour it all out: I needed a friend to sit with me quietly; to be by my side and say nothing.

Nothing is so often the most difficult thing to say, but so often the right thing to say.

Saying nothing is not the same as not being there. It is providing a warm support that demands nothing yet offers everything.

The tricky bit – especially in this age of social media, is how we demonstrate being there, while being silent.

I think part of it is offering often - verbally or with written words. Bob did that, so I already knew he and his wife were a listening presence. My dear friend Raz does it with his daily emojis.

Part of it is saying something at the time: letting the sufferer know you've noticed something is wrong.

And the rest is just being there: in silent support.

With the occasional hug: physical or emoji.

A Moodscope member.

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