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I’m always here for you: Supporting Someone with Depression

If you’re going to say someone with depression

“I’m always here for you”

then you’d better mean it. And you’d better mean all of it.

You’d better mean the words “always here“. Not that you’ll be there every passing minute of every single day – we understand that you have a life to live as well… But always in the sense of you’ll be there for us tomorrow, and the next day, into next week, next year, and the year after. Always. Because while it’s easy for you to say, it becomes something that we will hold onto like it’s the last hope we have on this earth. And it often is.

You’d better mean the words “for you“, because we need someone in our corner. We need someone in our corner, because often, by the time we need you, we’re not even in our corner fighting for ourselves anymore. We’ve already rejected our self worth, and we don’t need you taking offence at things we might say in the moment when despair has set in. We’re already offended enough at ourselves. We don’t need you to betray us; we’ve already betrayed ourselves. Often we can lash out at anyone who is prepared to listen, and that’s not an attack at our support people; it’s just that it becomes an outlet for the frustration and that can be taken out on those closest to us.

This doesn’t mean we get free reign and take you for granted, or a free pass to be offensive. It just means that in those moments when we hate ourselves so much that we give up and lash out with words to anyone who listens, that’s when we need the most support. It’s because we’re hurting, we don’t care anymore, and we take it out on those who we want to care. Most of us, if we’re lucky to make it through the darkest of times, will be incredibly thankful and equally apologetic in due course if you’ll give us the chance. But giving up on us when we’ve already given up; Getting offended when we’ve offended ourselves well before you came along, is not “being there for us“.

You need to put yourself to one side just for the moment and help us to stand on our own feet again no matter how hard it gets. If it’s hard for you, imagine how hard it is for us. And now imagine how hard it is for us trying to do that on our own.

That’s when people give up.

So please, before you say “I’m always here for you” please consider if you mean it, and mean all of it. Can you stand by those words through thick and thin? Can you stand by those words for as long as we need you to, not just for as long as you can? Because there is nothing worse to someone with depression than having those words said to you and then not being lived up to. In those darkest of times, in the depths of a depressive episode, those words will go around and around our heads and we will come to resent you, hate you, and be hurt by you when you’re no longer there. We will wonder “Well, where are you now?” We end up in a deeper and darker hole of rejection as we reflect on the friendship we once had with someone who said they’d always be there. The trust we once had is now gone, along with you, and has ruined our hope in others being able to help us either.

So say “I’m here for you.” Mean it.

Say “I’m always here for you.” But mean it.