1. Contrary to popular belief, depressed people cannot just snap their fingers and “get over it.” Depression is not a magical spell that can be taken away with a simple abracadabra.
2. Depression is not a blue feeling. It’s a dark, dark navy and it’s not a feeling; it’s more of a mood. A feeling comes and goes like the weather or storm clouds or ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. A mood stays when all else has gone away. And depression is so damn dark blue that even the very bottom of the ocean couldn’t compete with its exact shade. That’s how dark it is.
3. “Oh, depressed people can barely do anything at all! They just mope around and lie in bed all day.” Nope. Someone can be depressed and still function. People with depression are human beings too; they’re just having a harder time than everyone else. They cook dinner, flip pancakes, go to work, see movies, take their kids to daycare, babysit, text their friends, just like a normal person. They’re human.
4. Depression is not caused by the depressed person him or herself. It’s often caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, neurotransmitters called serotonin and dopamine. It’s like a metaphor: when the ocean tides come in and the water touches the shore, the shore feels happy and loved. When the tides recede, the shore feels alone and sad. When the neurotransmitters get depleted, this leads to sadness and low self-worth.
5. “Oh, it’s their own fault! They need to stop being such a mopey person.” Again, it’s the chemicals. The chemicals are at fault, not the person.
6. Not all depressed people are suicidal. There’s a difference between wanting to simply not exist and wanting to kill yourself. It’s different for every single person.
7. Sometimes, even though it seems the wrong thing to do, you need to let someone who is depressed be. You need to leave them alone if that’s what they want. Giving them space is like giving them time to breathe and recharge. But you have to pick up on the little things, the signals and cues, to know if they want someone with them or not. They might not always come right out and say, “I want you to spend time with me.” You have to be discerning and you have to be willing to come closer or back off.
8. Depression is not a bottomless black pit that everything gets sucked into and nothing ever comes back out. It may seem like that sometimes, but out of the darkest things eventually come light. If you turn of all the lights in your bedroom, eventually your eyes will adjust to the dark and you’ll see again.
9. “People with depression are depressed people.” Yes, they may be depressed, but their depression does not define them. You can’t lump them into a category. If you look up the word “depression” in a dictionary, their face is not going to be sitting there as the definition. They’re people, not their disorders.
10. People with depression can’t be fixed in any sense of the word. But they do get better. They’re not hopeless cases or broken objects to toss away into the back of the drawer. They just need a little extra loving.