How to tell your loved ones that you’re depressed? You just do it. Because your life depends on it.
Honestly, there is no right or wrong way to tell your loved ones that you’re depressed. Trust me on this one. I’ve experimented with multiple different routes of sharing this information. The recent one? Taking to YouTube and posting an intimate video about my recent struggles. Telling your friends and family about what you’re battling right now is a sign that you’re ready to do something about it even if you can’t really see it that way right now. It’s personal. It’ll take time. But just remember as you prepare to share these thoughts, it’s about the message you’re trying to get across. The “I am depressed and need your support” message. As long as that message can be fully understood, don’t bother fussing about the delivery.
But how do you get the message across? Well, I don’t know exactly because everyone is going to understand and react differently, but there are a few things to help you to prepare to have this conversation. Because in reality, this is all about you right now. Not them. And not their feelings.
Try and put into words how you feel.
I know, I know. I’m asking you to do a lot here, because sometimes we’re only sure of one feeling. The feeling that something is very off. But do your best to put it into words? On your days that you are struggling the most, do you feel alone? Is it overwhelming sadness? Anger? Is it stemming from something? Can you not pinpoint the why for the emotion? All of this will help put some context (not that you really need it) behind what you’re about to tell your close ones.
And even if all you know to say is that you don’t feel like yourself most days, go with it. It’s a start. And that feeling, albeit simple, is very valid and beyond real.
Figure out which medium works for you.
I’ve never been good at having this conversation, and up until recently, I figured my family members already knew something was going on. But in order to receive help from our support network, we have to be brave enough to at least let them know we are in need. Choose a way to communicate what’s going on that’s most comfortable to you. Most people will appreciate the the formal sit down, but again, this is about you, not them. Do what feels best for you. Do whatever helps you feel at ease.
Decide who you are going to tell.
Not everyone needs to know this little detail. This is your journey. Your battle. And you’re allowed to share it with whoever you please. Depending on the relationship, I do suggest letting the folks you live with know what’s going on. It’s always nice to feel safe and supported at home.
Do not expect them to get it right away.
At age 16, I tried to commit suicide, and at almost 30-years-old, my parents and I have never really spoken about it. They’re aware I go to therapy. They’ve seen me experience an anxiety attack. They support all my crazy endeavors in the name of creativity, but that attempt isn’t something they’re ready to unpack right now. Or ever. And that’s okay. Not everyone will understand what you’re feeling and going through, but it’s important that when you tell your loved ones that you’re depressed, you give them time to fully understand what the fuck that means. Let them ask the ignorant questions. You’re going to need to brace yourself for those. Let them hit you with the denial and disbelief, but remember you don’t owe them any other proof besides what you so bravely shared. There will be some self-blame on their end. This is inevitable, but this is time to practice compassion, and remind them depression isn’t solved with the blame game.
Be patient with them, as you’ll need them to be patient with you. This probably isn’t a conversation they were expecting to ever have.
Express what you may need for them right now.
Do you want them to check in on you? Do you want them to be better listeners? Do you want them to distract you? Force you out of bed on the days you do not want to be seen? It’s out responsibility to share what we need, not theirs. They are not mind readers, so help them to help you. Tell them what you need.
Be prepared to receive support within their own capacity.
And in return for sharing what you need, it might not come packaged the way you are used to. But as long as it is from a positive space, and somewhere along the line of what you stated you need, accept their support shown in their own special way.
Do not be ashamed.
Not now. Not ever. Because being ashamed of struggling to fight for your happiness gets exhausting and further feeds into the views and beliefs that something is wrong with you. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You just need a little more help getting to the happy, that’s all. And trust me, if you want it bad enough, you’ll find your happy.
July is Minority Mental Health Month. Have the conversation. Encourage the conversation.
And if you have nothing positive to say about the conversation, if you, yourself, are not capable of being supportive
and looking passed the ignorance, please for the love of God, keep your mouth shut. This month isn’t about you.