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How do you deal with people who don't get it? Need to know.

(10 Posts)
MrsBertMacklin Sun 02-Nov-14 22:26:52

Going through a very low patch at the moment.

Last time this happened, I lost two friends, who were well meaning, but just didn't get what depression is and did the whole 'go for a walk', 'have you tried eating more healthily' approach and would try to cajole me into talking about what I was talking about in counselling, which just triggered more anxiety attacks. I felt so vulnerable and weak at this point that I couldn't articulate how this behaviour made me feel (or help them understand how depression isn't the same as 'being a bit down'), so I just shut them out and consequently, lost them.

Same thing now happening with another friend. Have previously masked depression from her due to fear that she wouldn't understand, but she caught me out a couple of weeks ago and is now wanting to meet up to see if she can 'help sort me out' and has emailed me links to the MIND site.

thornrose Sun 02-Nov-14 22:32:27

To a degree I don't fully get it. I'm trying really, really hard as my dd is only 15 and just diagnosed with depression. When you love someone you want to fix things for them.

Sorry this isn't helpful but I'm a bit lost myself. I'll watch this thread to see how I can be a better support.

Mitchy1nge Sun 02-Nov-14 22:34:01

people want to be helpful, and sometimes that means saying ridiculous and awful but well intentioned things (but actually that is good advice, diet and exercise might help and agencies like MIND can be very useful)

did you 'get it' before you got it? I didn't

am just wondering if it might be better to take their support and encouragement in the spirit with which it's intended, depression isn't some immutable fact that you are stuck with forever, it can be helped when the right action is taken but it will especially thrive once it has isolated you from your friends and rendered you inert and practically bed bound

Pandora37 Sun 02-Nov-14 22:45:36

How do I deal with them? With great difficulty. My dad was angry with me, which surprised me as he's normally a laid back person but he was really angry. I did find it upsetting but I've just let it wash over my head. He's not happy with me being on ADs but we don't talk about it any more.

I would just thank them for their suggestions re going for a walk but you've already tried that and you don't find it helpful. If they ask about what you've discussed in counselling, just say you find it very hard to talk about and you'd rather not go through it again. I think they can feel a bit helpless sometimes so tell them what you want from them, even if it's just watching TV together. I did that with a friend and she was fantastic, she never asked me awkward questions or treated me any differently. I really appreciated that.

MrsBertMacklin Sun 02-Nov-14 22:45:45

Not having a pop at friends offering support, to be clear - 'deal' was the wrong word to use. Trying to find ways of conveying what's going on so I don't make the same mistake as I did last time ref. handling (as you way) well meaning, but for me, frustrating and in one case, triggering advice.

Sorry, finding it difficult to be coherent, should have written this earlier in the day...

MrsBertMacklin Sun 02-Nov-14 22:55:05

Pandora, sorry that your dad has reacted that way.

My dad has depression. My mum's stance was that this is because he is weak and I have vivid memories of her screaming at my dad on one occasion because he'd started crying. Safe to say I never told her about my own issues.

Mitchy1nge Sun 02-Nov-14 22:58:30

it is tough

have cut people out of my life too for what were probably, to them, such innocuous comments as 'I'm too busy/strong to get depressed' or 'would you feel better if you put on some make up?' and I regret it now because why should people understand if they have no experience? but I couldn't cope with it at the time, I just wanted to lie down and stop breathing

can you think of anything that would be helpful to hear from or do with your friends that you could suggest?

it's not just mental problems that attract this, my friend has cancer and people say the unspeakable alllllllll the time 'you must stay positive' and 'have you tried eating broccoli' or 'you'll be fine after your operation' (she won't)

MrsBertMacklin Sun 02-Nov-14 23:08:38

'I'm too strong to get depressed'. Slack jawed at that one.

Really not sure what I want or need, having hidden it from almost all people in my life until recently. Something to sleep on.

Thank you for your replies.

NanaNina Mon 03-Nov-14 00:37:06

Oh I feel for you MrsBert - I have intermittent depression and get some very bad days. My firm belief is that people who don't have first hand experience of depression can have absolutely no idea of the torment of mental illness. There is nothing to see is there (only our emotionless faces) no plaster cast or hacking cough, so that confuses them all the more. Depression is the wrong word for this mental illness because people used the word "depressed" quite often don't they - "this weather is so depressing" etc etc and so they often can't see the difference between being a "bit low" and being mentally ill.

It might surprise you to know that mental health nurses use all the stock phrases "what about a nice hot bath" "a cup of tea" oh and yes "a walk" (although I do have to say that much as I don't want to do this, it does help a bit) "can you distract yourself - watch a funny film" - they never say "hide under the duvet all day if that's what you feel like!"

You can't say this to your friends but I heard a good quote recently - "If you've never been lost in this particular section of hell, please don't give me directions........."

I think friends do just want to help and have good intentions and you do actually need friends when you're depressed. I call my depression my "Headmonster" and so I use this as a sort of shorthand, so I will say the Headmonster is on the rampage today so I won't be good company/or I'm feeling pretty crap but if you want to come round for a coffee that would be nice, dependent on how you feel. They seem to be able to relate to the Headmonster and ask if he is active or asleep and that sort of saves trying to explain that I just feel flat, empty, hopeless, worthless and have no interest in anything. Sorry it's late and I'm rambling........

Thornrose so sorry your girl is depressed. Is there a reason do you think? It's tricky with a teenager - my teenage son suffered a bad bout of depression when he left home to go to uni and only stayed there for 4 days! I used to take him out in the afternoons to get him out of the house, but he just wondered around after me, and I didn't understand it because I had never suffered from depression at that time. He used to get much better in the evenings, and I do mostly on bad days. Do you find this with your daughter.

Youngminds is a brilliant website for young people with mental health issues. Sorry I'll come back tomorrow when I'm less tired.

greyspottycushion Mon 03-Nov-14 13:09:20

I am someone who is trying to "get it" in trying to support someone close to me. I never quite know how much to "push" her. For instance, it is said exercise "may" contribute to a sense of well being, so how much should I encourage her to come for a swim, or go for a walk. If she seems unkeen, should I cajole her into coming, or let her go back to bed. At the moment I accept everything she wants to do, never question or pass comment, I just let her know I care. But it is hard for me, who has never experienced depression. I have found it so difficult as a year ago she was happy, healthy, with loads friends, good job, and in her words "everything was perfect". This mental health problem was so sudden with no obvious trigger. I shall be watching this thread with interest as I would hate to do anything detrimental to our good relationship

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