Close friends are the people who we create unforgettable memories with, and who know us better than we know ourselves. So what do you do when your friend suddenly disappears from your life? You reach out but receive no answer. As someone diagnosed with Bipolar II, trying to help my friends understand mental illness has always been a challenge. The behaviors of someone struggling with mental illness are hard to interpret by others, especially by our close friends
These are 9 things your friend with depression wants you to know.
1. Depression is…
It is important you know that depression is a common, but very serious mood disorder that affects how you think, feel and behave. It can be a reaction to a tragic life occurrence or as a clinically diagnosed condition. It makes me feel helpless and worthless at times.
2. Just by being present you are helping me
How do you help me? Being present and telling me the juicy details of your weekend help me to step outside of my own internal pain. Mental illness is not something that can be ‘fixed,’ and it is not your responsibility to erase the pain. You do not have to walk on eggshells, just be the friend you have always been!
3. I do not mean to ignore you
I am not being distant based on something you said or did. If you have sent a text or called, and received no answer, I apologize. Our friendship will always remain separate from these moments of despair. I cannot be the friend I want to be, so I choose to completely withdraw and isolate myself.
4. It is difficult to be social right now
I feel empty, and socializing takes more energy than running a marathon. You cannot force the sun to come out on a rainy day. I know you are trying, but you cannot force this internal pain out of me. It is almost as if a cloud is inside my brain. I am not my usual self, and I cannot pretend to be her at the moment.
5. There is no explanation for the way I feel
There is no equation or formula to get an answer of why I am feeling this way. It is not a “blue mood,” but a chemical imbalance that causes me to fall into severe emotional states for periods of time. It is out my control, which makes it hard to explain.
6. It is important you understand stigma
Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a person. It has a major impact on my life, as well as the life of others. It is important you understand my sensitivity when it comes to negative comments made by the media, friends and family pertaining to mental illness. Although you may not fully understand, your support makes me feel like I am not alone in this fight.
7. Please be patient
There is no quick fix or secret potion that will suddenly make this better. In these times, patience is key! I would love to snap my fingers and be better right now, but I cannot. As much effort as I put into healing, it will take some time.
8. I am not doing this on purpose
It is difficult to understand mental illness, and even harder to explain. This is not a cry for help, but a disease that consumes my mind. I am not trying to get attention. Mental illness affects many people, and I happen to be one of them.
9. I love you & our friendship will always remain important
I cannot give you a date or time of when I will be myself again. It could be today, tomorrow or months from now. In that time, when I’am distant and withdrawn, know my love and support for you always remains. When the sun shows its face from behind the clouds, look for me dancing in the aftermath of the storm.
-Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.-NAMI
-Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, or 4.2%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.-NAMI