What do people do when they need to face a person who has been depressed for a long time – not for hours, but days, weeks, months or even years?
Quotes doing the rounds in the social media space advise you to stay away from ‘negative people who make you miserable’. Most people would rather keep away than see how they can help. True that it is better for those who lead a joyous or pleasant life to run away than to delve into the chasm of another’s misery and ruin their own days. It is indeed a lot to ask to go sit with them and chat with them for a while, because of the radiating gloom.
A depressed person could be a very depressed person.
It is their suffocation that comes out as negativity or accusation or explosion. They know what they are doing to others, but they can’t help it. They’re choking on it.
Some of them may be twirling in the darkness dangerously close to the drain, wondering what it would be like to let go. Perhaps they need help to not be washed away. Perhaps you could throw them a line and pull them out. Because their life matters, too.
Maybe no one can fix their problem, but knowing that someone cares or having someone to talk to may get them out of the darkest place. It may not happen in an hour or a day. Walking away definitely does not help. Waiting for them to ask for help doesn’t either.
‘You must find your own happiness’ is probably not the best comment to make to them. Clearly, they are well past that stage. They believe they’re beyond help.
When others keep away from them because the darkness is contagious, they are adding to the frustration.
The depressed person doesn’t want to be depressed either. They want to be happy too. They may be afraid, miserable, coping with grief, angry or stuck in their past.
They may appear happy one day, or laughing out loud or looking quite normal. Don’t assume that they are out of the woods. Maybe what you see is their flailing arms appearing above the surface for the last time.
And if they look gloomy again the next day, the silliest question to ask would be, “Now what happened?”
Throw a line.