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What Not To Say To Someone With Depression

When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

03/03/2017 7:45 AM AEDT | Updated 03/03/2017 10:12 AM AEDT
Dragan Trifunovic
"Let me be very clear, whatever you suggest, chances are we've already tried it, so stop trying us."

When I tell people I suffer from depression, the absolute last thing I want to hear is their 'advice'. There's always someone who's all "have you tried [obvious shit]?" or "you know what worked for my cousin's girlfriend? [Some ridiculous shit]" or "my friend had [completely different condition] and now they're fine thanks to [dangerous shit]".

I understand these questions may come from a good place, but that doesn't mean they're not shitty. They are. And they're almost always asked by people who do not suffer from a mental illness. It's not just the questions, it's the motivation behind asking them.

The Have you tried...? crowd tend to heroically sashay into the conversation like they're about to bestow an obscure and powerful revelation onto your uninformed head. Let me be very clear, whatever you suggest, chances are we've already tried it, so stop trying us.

Have you tried-ers? are often surprised when their suggestion (typically something that 'worked' for their aunt) has not 'worked' for you. The implication that these tips will somehow 'cure' you is infuriating. When people say "this worked for X and now they're fine", it belittles everything about mental illness.

Thinking you can 'cure' or even 'make better' a serious mental condition with one small recommendation is bold and stupid. It's like going up to a cancer patient and saying "I'm not a doctor but have you tried crystals?"

It's very simple... if someone doesn't explicitly ask for your opinions/suggestions/advice on their mental illness, then don't give it. Keeping your mouth shut is free and easy.

For those who still want to give their unwanted opinion, I've put together this handy FAQ to save you time.

Have you tried eating healthy?

Yes. Still depressed.

Have you tried exercising?

I can barely get out of bed but yes, I have tried, and it made me feel worse. Still mega depressed.

Have you tried meditation?

Yep. It didn't clear my thoughts. In fact, it made more room for more thoughts and the last thing I want is more thoughts. More depressed than ever.

Have you tried chamomile tea?

Hell yeah! Still want to die though.

Have you tried going for a hike?

I have indeed and it helped me find cliffs to jump off.

Have you tried staying off social media?

Grow up.

Have you tried pretending to be happy?

Every. Fucking. Day.

Have you tried breathing?

No. Is it good?

Have you tried living?

Sometimes.

Have you tried trying?

Never.

Hope this helps! But remember, if in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

___________

This post was first published on The Slant.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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