Things Not To Say:
1. Just look on the bright side - you have a lot to be thankful for. No shit. Really? Of course intellectually I know that I have a lot to be thankful for but depression isn't about intellectualizing - if I could talk myself out of my feelings, I would have done so a long time ago, so why not just give me a second helping of guilt by reminding me that in addition to feeling like crap, I'm ALSO not being grateful for what I have?
2. You're making yourself this way - if you just tried harder/did x differently/thought differently/believed in Jesus then it would get better. This is a fairly ignorant point of view in that it assumes the person is completely in control of the way that they feel. You know who feels the worst about my depression? I DO. If I could press a button or snap my fingers or even saw off a limb in the promise that this would disappear, I would do it in a heartbeat. It's not about mind over matter.
3. Are you sure you're able to work/parent /have more children in the state you're in? Are you me? Are you my husband? Do you have deep, intimate and personal knowledge of our lives and decision making capabilities? No? Then shut the f*ck up and stop assuming that I'm incapable of making informed decisions simply because I struggle with depression.
4. I totally know how you feel - Maybe you do, maybe you don't. Regardless I've never felt helped or commiserated with when someone told this to me. Chances are unless you've lived my exact life, you can't possibly know exactly how I feel. Maybe you're going through or have gone through something similar - in which case - let's chat!
5. How does your husband put up with you? This person was lucky I didn't punch them in the face. So there's that.
6. If you don't stop you're going to mess up your child/children - I had a psychiatrist tell me this. I'm serious. Wow. That was the last time I ever saw or spoke to her; went out and found a post partum depression SPECIALIST. Not all psychs are created equal - some of them are downright awful people with no capacity to empathize with others. It boggles the mind how they ended up in their current career, but always remember - you HAVE choices. Just because they have a Ph.D at the end of their name doesn't mean they know YOU better than YOU do!
7. Hang in there! K, thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
Things To Say:
1. How can I help?
2. I'm there for you - here is my telephone number/email/etc and I'm available to talk if you need me.
3. I don't know how you're feeling but I'm sorry that you're feeling that way because I care about you.
4. You're doing a good job by seeking help/trying hard/expressing your thoughts or feelings
5. What you're feeling is not wrong/bad/crazy
6. Your family and friends love and value you
7. You are a worthwhile person and you are not defined by your diagnosis