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Oops! Did I Say That?

 

We have to get together sometime. 

How many times have you heard that line?  And how many times have you heard that from someone you were talking with about your loved one’s depression?

Recently my husband suffered a concussion.  It not only brought along the normal results of a concussion – slower response, slower gate, fear of falling, and other issues – it brought along an increase in his depression symptoms.  Everyone who saw him in the beginning days usually ended the conversation with “we have to get together soon.”  No visits transpired.

We became a couple in a boat out in the ocean with no hope of rescue in sight.  I tried to keep the boat in the direction of the shore but on too many days it became a task that seemed insurmountable.   I was dealing with a person I didn’t know – the concussion had seen to that.  I was dealing with an increase of depression symptoms – it’s hard to keep upbeat when surrounded with such sadness.  In addition I was having to answer his wondering “where everyone was” and not really knowing what to say.

I know that looking at someone who has changed, being around a depressed person, looking at your own fears is never fun.  But if you don’t want to do it, don’t say your want to get together just to soothe your own self.

Having talked with many who live with and love a depressed person, I found that many had similar experiences, even without the concussion factored in.  They talked of no longer being invited to dinner or asked out for coffee.  They remembered being conveniently left off of party invitations. They would see people they knew who would literally walk on the other side of the street or duck into alleys to avoid seeing them.

We who struggle with and love someone with depression and those who are depressed have feelings.  We can feel left out and abandoned.  We can wonder why our friends no longer call or come over, especially when they said they wanted to get together.  We can feel as pariahs in our own community.

Lots of times we say things without thinking, using the rote response.  Have a good day!  See you later!  Let’s get together.  In the field of depression it is hard to distinguish these nuances – after all, it takes most of our energies to just get through the day in a sane way – and so when you say you want to get together, we are inclined to believe you really want to get together, that you want to offer a time of respite from the normal routine.  We want to believe you care.

The moral of this story is:  Follow through on what you say.  Say what you mean.  And care about those you say it to.

– Bernadette

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2 Responses

  1. I have found this true not only in the realm of mental health issues, but also as a widow. When people ask me how best to help another widow, my first and best advice: Do not offer or promise something you will not do. If you say you will do it, then do it. If you aren’t sure you can do it, then don’t even make the offer.

    Monica

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