"Where ARE you?" Tassie messaged.
She's a Facebook friend in America and she noticed I had been very quiet for some weeks.
"I've been struggling with depression and hiding away from everyone," I replied.
She understands totally. She's been there too.
"If one more person asks me what's wrong, I'm going to strangle them!" she said. And, when they say, 'But the holidays coming up must make it easier, right?' I'm going to reach for my husband's shot-gun!"
Oh yes, let me see now – the holidays… Extra stress, extra demands, extra expectations that you will be happy and jolly and of good cheer… Riiiiight – that's definitely going to make things better!
"And then," she added, "the surprise on their faces that this is not making me happy. They get all offended, as if I am just refusing to be happy and that somehow I'm being depressed AT them."
People who don't suffer from depression often don't understand, and they will say and do what seems to us the most stupid things. As Tassie says, "If they don't have it, you can't explain it; and if they do have it, you don't need to."
In the end, I think the only way to cope is to choose to find all this "helpful advice" amusing. Here are some of the things said to Tassie and me over the years. You may recognise some of them yourself.
"Have you tried vitamins? May be extra Vitamin C?"
"You need exercise! Go for a nice walk. You'll feel better for it!"
"Go out with your friends. You need to party!"
"Drink more water! How much are you drinking? Well, that's not enough/too much."
"Cut out the drink."
"Have you cut out sugar?"
"Take Omega 3."
"You need to become vegetarian/vegan."
"Take some 'Me Time'; get your hair cut."
"Get your nails done."
"Buy some pretty underwear."
"Have more sex!"
"If you believed in God more, this wouldn't happen."
"You need counselling."
"Have you tried crystals?"
"What about yoga? Have you tried that?"
"You need meditation, not medication."
"I'll send you jokes and silly memes to cheer you up."
"Go to the beach."
"Get into the woods."
"Go to an adventure playground; be a big kid again!"
"Try getting up earlier."
"Get more sleep."
"Just smile more."
"You mustn't give into it."
"It's all in your head."
"Let's face it: you're just not trying."
Some of these things are ridiculous, some of them are (unintentionally, I hope) cruel. None of them is helpful – or certainly, not helpful in this context.
I don't have any advice on how to answer. I just twitch my lips – because actually smiling is impossible – and say, "Thank you."
Hiding away is one method of avoiding all the well-meaning comments. Training your friends and loved ones is another. I tell them, "You can ask me how I am and send hugs – and that is ALL!"
In the end, we can only get through it, as best we can, on our own.
But – no, – wait! Have you tried sitting under a big metal triangle for an hour each day? It balances your chakras!
A Moodscope member.