I recently made a post on FaceBook that instigated some polarising opinions from “I appreciate this” to “you fucking hack”. I now feel obliged to explain my reasoning further.
The initial post read as follows:
Some days, I worry that when people don’t talk about suicide or depression because the feeling is potentially fleeting and they don’t want the stigma of being “that” person following them around
I will now be an over-explaining ass and further dissect what I meant:
I have a couple of friends, myself included, who are afraid of reaching out because what they feel is very much temporary. How can depression be temporary? Well, it cannot. However, sadness can be. You could be overly stressed one day, or feel crushed under the oppressive thumb of reality. You could want to say something about it, then hold back because you don’t want to be a burden, or be forever stigmatized as a sad sack.
This post was not to say that no one should reach out. Quite the opposite. It is simply reminding people to isolate the situation from the person until you know the full story. To reiterate, it could be a bad day. It could be a bad moment. It might be a bad week. It doesn’t always mean that the person is chronically depressed or in need of public sympathy. Quite the opposite: there are occasions where public pressure may push the person over an edge that they may not recover from.
A better way to handle it is to simply acknowledge it. Leave a “like” on their message. If you notice a pattern, then reach out privately. If that doesn’t seem to result in anything, move on to getting a hold of family or friends if you notice an ongoing issue.
Don’t assume that talking will do anything. Don’t gaslight or rehash. Don’t guilt.
There is also a chance that the depressing thought might be simply a song lyric (something I have fallen prey to many times ove). There is also a chance that it was an expression of frustration over one event.
Or: maybe they are depressed. If that is the case, just make it clear that you are willing to listen, but make sure to do so privately. Public expressions could be seen as shaming. Shaming could lead to putting up walls, or worse, sprialing.
Again: a private extension of a branch is often all that the person would want if they want anything.
Of course, every expression of depression is unique. That’s what makes it so hard to deal with. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there who do not want people to know that they are actually sad. Again, assume that the person doesn’t want to share their emotions privately. Don’t just jump to “sad post therefore sad person” and keep in mind that there is a large number of people born after the year 1980 who just like sad music.
Here is a link for the depression and addiction resources that I have for the Kingston and South Frontenac region. If you need help and cannot reach out, for whatever reason, please look into this. I am not trained, nor do I have any facts that I need to share. These are all just opinions and the point of view from someone who suffers from mild depression themself. Please, use the link above. Get proper guidance if you are actually worried about someone and don’t know what to do. It’s not a secret that I have failed time and time again.