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.


Dead to Me

“You’re dead to me.”
A saying we use to dismiss someone when you’re annoyed, angry or pissed at someone at a level that you never want to see them again.
The hardest thing is having to say this about someone who you like, someone who means something to you, someone who you still consider a friend, someone who is a loved one.
This completely removes the ‘good-riddance’ aspect of the saying, and replaces it with the kinds of feelings experienced when loved ones pass away. Grief. Agony. Pain. Sorrow. Anguish. Sadness. Depression. Emptiness.
All normal and acceptable for someone who is no longer with us.
Inconceivable, and inconsolable when you know this friend – this loved one, is still alive and well; just not for you.


My Fight With Depression

In November 2012 I knew there was a problem.
I couldn’t focus like I used to. I lost all sense of time. I couldn’t order things into priorities. I couldn’t see past one thing at a time. And as a Teacher, this limited my abilities in my workplace incredibly.
By December I was almost flat on the floor. I struggled through the last few weeks of school, and stumbled through the door of my GP. I was not in a place anyone wants to be. Vulnerable. Helpless. In Pain. For no tangible or understandable reason.

Over the course of the next twelve months I was in and out of my doctors office, adjusting, searching, hoping that there might be some solution to my illness. Medication works most of the time, and once I had found the right levels by September, I was mostly able to hold it together. Visits to a counsellor have helped me discuss and be open with my wife, but has yet to find the cause, or more importantly; a solution. I have tried writing. I have tried painting again. I’ve tried the whole exercise thing. All have worked to a minimal degree for a limited time.

It has been rough. On me. On my wife. On my family, and my friends. Some have tried to help. Some have wanted to help – but as I’ve found out the hard way; I actually have to want that person to help. Many have prayed and showed their support. Many have encouraged. Many have fallen by the wayside. Some have even found better things to do with their time and cease to be there for me any more.
In December 2013, one year on from being diagnosed with clinical depression, I stripped back my life. I rid my life of Facebook, Twitter, Email. I rarely use my phone for actual phone calls or texts any more – so that was left in a draw for three weeks.
And somehow, I managed to feel better.
And so it remained. I turned twitter back on, because it’s full of things I want to know about, from people that I don’t know enough to worry about. My Facebook became a deleted account, as the numerous posts of random events made me feel more distant from people, and more isolated and rejected. The chat left me empty and abandoned as I watched for hours people coming and going.

I don’t have any answers. Even after a year of struggling, wrestling, and searching, I’m no closer to knowing how to beat this beast. It has taken these last 13 months to even go public with it and put this on my website.

But here I am. In the depths of this despair. Constantly swinging from mood to mood; often miserable, rarely exuberant. But there have been two constants. God. And my wife. And I know that neither are the cause of this.

I don’t know if I will beat this. I don’t know when it will end, or if it will end. Hope lingers on, but fades in the darkness. To this day, I continue to fight with depression every day. In the end, I hope that maybe, just maybe; somewhere out there, these words will reach someone – they’ll strike the same note or cause a stir inside someone, and that someone might see that there is a way to keep living, even though the walls seem insurmountable and the struggles wear you down until you have nothing left to give. Kia kaha. Stay strong.

There must be a way through this.

When All Around Has Fallen – Delirious

When all around has fallen
Your castle has been burned
You used to be a king here
Now no one knows your name
You live your life for honour
Defender of the faith
But you’ve been crushed to pieces
And no one knows your pain