I saw a post today with a chart about what not to say to someone who is depressed. Then many people commented that it’s unhelpful to only post what not to say without offering suggestions of what might be most helpful to say.
Here is an incredible education in what to say when a friend or loved one is depressed. Please know that even if they cannot gracefully take in your words, love or attempts to help or support, that every kind word of every message, every call, every hug and every heart emoji matters more than you know in the moment and in the future. Don’t let not knowing what to say keep you silent.
I was incredibly blessed to have the strength and wisdom to reach out to some close friends last winter and let them know how much I was struggling with depression. It can feel so paralyzing to be in it alone and not know what to do even if you’ve been there before. It took my own willingness to accept every ounce of available help and support without hesitation, pride or shame to pull myself out of it.
These are some of the words of my sister angels that came from below and lifted me up. Their words and love helped me so much. Their wisdom in knowing how to respond, even if they weren’t sure what to say, is the most helpful gift I’ve ever received. If you don’t know what to say or how to respond please read and re-read these words and then make them your own as needed and speak them or write them to anyone who may need some extra love and support.
It has taken me almost a whole year to be able to take in all of this love, but I’m doing it! I feel a million times better today. The better I feel the more love I see with my name on it and the more humbled I am by my life and the beautiful hearts that surround me.
“Let’s set up a time we can chat each week. I want to be here for you and walk beside you as you battle this beast. We have the power to overcome and I know you are going to make it out stronger on the other side.
What I know for sure is – I love you, I believe in you and I want the best for you. My life is brighter because of you. My life would not be as bright without you. Keep reaching out anytime. You can call me ANYTIME day or night. You deserve the love. You deserve to be happy.”
“I am here for you and will happily and gratefully come be with you and all of your hard feelings. No need to do this alone. Together is the answer. Community and sisterhood is the answer. I am so glad I GET to be your sister and I GET to hold you and all of your feelings.”
“Let’s get together. I love you. I appreciate you. Thanks for sharing yourself with me. I’m with you in the not knowing how to shift things except to pray and to take courage and action where/when I can. I want to walk and talk and do anything with you. Let’s make dates. I’ll call you soon, and will you please call me anytime too?”
“I am with my mom. It is quiet here. She is dying. I hear the roar & flicker of the wall heater. There is soft music playing, and my mom is hunched over herself, folded in prayer. She loves you so much, Abby. We have had many loving talks about you in the recent months. You were the first person she said it was ok for me to tell about her cancer. She trusts you. The medicine you made for her has helped her so much! That spiderweb of strength & connection is living on. So many friends & family have reached out to support her because she learned the lesson of asking for & receiving help. This healing is because of you, dear sister. You healed her, my mama.
I want the right support & love & strength for YOU!!! With all the amazing people on this email & in your life, I know you are already held well. I hope you can feel it. If not, or when you can’t, let us know how to hold you better. Let me know how to hold you better. I’m sorry I’ve been so involved in parenting & more recently with my mom that I’ve been around less and less. It’s not for lack of love, but still… I’m sorry. I’m very sorry.”
“Dearest one – I hear you. I have been there and my ? goes out to you. Trust yourself to know just what you need. And if, in any given moment, you are not sure, one of us will be there to reflect it back to you and give you a hug. Moment by moment. Step by step. It’s your dance and nobody knows the right moves. Try everything: surrender to it, move toward the light, cry, laugh, lie face down on the earth, hug a tree, watch TV – and for sure, love yourself through all of it. I’m here for you at a moments notice.”
“My heart! I have been thinking of you. Thank you so much for this email and including me in your life. For that I will always be grateful and honored. I know what that weight of bricks of depression feels like…I really do. All this is to say that I feel you. And you are not doing anything wrong b/c you’re not feeling better. This is absolutely not the truth at all. You are completely in the present.
I wish I had the answer of how to feel better, but I know you will. Remember you are loved. you are soooooo soooo high in my book, Abby Kojola. For no other reason than because you are you. You are a great friend, a super amazing business woman, a medicine woman, and thoughtful spirit. These are all reasons you are awesome, but I love you just because you are you. Because you have all your feelings. Like I do! I’m so relieved to be like you in any way.”
“Depression is an insidious mother fucker!!! I wanna whack it with my broom, get out!!!! Sweep it out the door!!! Be gone!!!
It’s also natural, and part of what makes you so beautiful is your spectrum of feelings. You have a wide spectrum, you’re an artist and a healer, and I’m so glad you have the wisdom to holla when the feelings are too deep! My wise woman sister! That’s when the cavalry gets to arrive with donuts and love!
I’ll text you. Been feeling you. Should’ve texted that moment!”
“Just want you to know I love you so much and so glad you are reaching out. You are my friend and sister forever and you can call/text me anytime day or night.
PS. Lets kick depressions ASS! Depression go away YOU SUCK poo on you! Not welcome near my Abby!!!!!”
“I love you so much and I’m grateful you are sharing your vulnerability with us. To me you are an amazing awe-inspiring human being and I understand it is hard when you are not in in touch with that and the depression is keeping you away from that truth. You do so much for others and bring love, joy and presence.”
“It’s so insanely easy for me to love you. I’m happy to love you more and pray for you all the time. Easy. I pray you feel happiness and peace in your mind and body and all your being. Does togetherness feel helpful? If so, I can easily make that happen and come harass you with my baby. We like to be with you so much!
You’re the real deal. God only knows (literally) the goodness that is available to you on the other side of this healing. I love you madly. Thanks for all you do and all you are. Bless your every breath and everything that made you.”