Back when I was still at school, the typical response I got to telling close friends I was in a bad place was one of grief and sympathy: “I’m so sorry to hear! I hope things get better! I will pray for you!” But the person would never really ask me about it again. The dirty secret was swept back under the rug in spite of my attempts to be honest about what was going on. Although I had always been one to invite people to meals, to ask about what was going on in their lives, to listen and offer sympathy, to try and follow up, to write notes of encouragement…I found little of that returned, even in my darkest hours. The feeling of being let down by friends added even more pain to what I was already feeling.
Sadly, it’s not necessarily that people don’t care, it has much more to do with the fact that they simply have no point of reference, because we don’t talk about it enough. We hear the word depression, or mental illness, and it makes us uncomfortable, so we’d rather not talk about it any more.
If we’re going to make headway with reducing the number of people we lose to depression, this has to change.