“Here is the tragedy: when you are the victim of depression, not only do you feel utterly helpless and abandoned by the world, you also know that very few people can understand, or even begin to believe, that life can be this painful.” – Giles Andreae
Tuesday, October 21st
I always have this innate awareness that when I’m having a bad day and say “I’m depressed” that I am not honoring how truly difficult it is for people who struggle day-to-day with depression.
I have an extended family member who suffers from depression, and I don’t understand any more about the disease than I did the day I met her. As with any medical condition, her experience will be different than the next person’s given her unique body chemistry and life circumstance.
I have found out well after the fact that she has been in a downward spiral with her depression, and never had an inkling. She is very good at hiding it from others. I find myself resenting her in ways since I feel like she should be able at this point in her life to ask for help. That seems like the logical thing to do but never having experienced true clinical depression, I don’t know how difficult it can be to ask for that help. I know that I have trouble isolating myself when the seasons change and the days get darker and grey at which time I am not the most forthcoming person…but when it has been months since I have not had a genuine heart-to-heart conversation with her, it seems unfathomable that she could really be that distant.
So it is with the struggle with one’s mental health, especially with those relationships in your inner circle. There are expectations to live up to a level of consistent contact. We want her to return our calls. We want her to tell us she’s okay, or at least to tell us she’s not okay. And these things are more for me to feel okay rather than for her to be healing her pain. It is frustrating and I don’t necessarily know how to be truly compassionate towards her. I have more work to do in understanding depression as a disease, and in slowing down and seeing beyond myself. She is not suffering in any manner of disrespect to me.
Can you empathize with other people’s suffering, especially those close to you?