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12 Phrases You Should Never Say To People With Depression (Unless You’re Cold-Hearted Enough To Hurt Them)

12 Phrases You Should Never Say To People With Depression (Unless You’re Cold-Hearted Enough To Hurt Them)

Living with depression is like living in an alternate universe that your brain isn’t equipped to handle. Supporting a friend while they are living with depression can be difficult and uncomfortable. Many people opt to not say anything—and when they do speak up they end up saying the wrong thing. It’s easy to spout out altruistic phrases to a friend with depression, but instead of helping you are actually hurting them.

If you can avoid these 12 phrases you will be in a much better place to support your friend when they need you the most.

1. “It could be worse!”

Attempting to compare your friend’s situation to someone who seems worse off is not a helpful strategy. Depression isn’t based on life circumstance. It’s brain chemistry. Someone could be living what you would consider to be the easiest, best life ever, but the surface impression of someone’s life is not an indication of their internal life/feelings. Comparing their life to others with more trying life circumstances will only make your friend feel worse.

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2. “You should count your blessings.”

What might be a helpful strategy for you will not be helpful for someone living under the weight of depression. Thinking of all of the good things in life will not lift the cloud of depression from your friend. It will only heap guilt on top of their already struggling demeanor.

3. “You’re just in a funk.”

Don’t belittle your friends struggle. By claiming that is it just a passing “funk” you are telling your friend that their feelings are not valid. Don’t dismiss feelings that you do not understand.

4. “Have you tried…”

Someone living with depression does not want to be feeling the pain that they are feeling. They have tried everything they know how to try. You suggestions only make your friend feel silly and frustrated. If you personally don’t live with depression, you will never know the depth of the pain and the helplessness that your friend feels. Suggestions from someone without depression only serve to patronize and not support.

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5. “I totally understand. I get depressed sometimes too…”

If you think you get “depressed” sometimes, then you do not understand what depression is. Feeling sad or upset is not the same thing as being clinically depressed. Trying to relate to your friend who is in a situation that you have never truly been in will not help your friend feel loved and supported.

6. “You should focus on exercising and healthy eating!”

You should not be making recommendations about about how to cope with a serious mental illness if you’re not a professional. Your friend does not need another “professional” opinion. They need a friend. Physical health is related to mental heath, but chemical imbalances in the brain causing depression cannot be cured by going on a jog and having a salad.

7. “But you don’t look depressed!”

Depression isn’t a style. It doesn’t necessarily affect the viewable surface of someone. People suffering from depression come in all ages, races, genders, occupations and orientations. You can’t assume you understand someones feelings by how they appear to feel. Even if your friends looks healthy and seemingly happy, you should listen to them talk about how they really feel and believe them.

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8. “You can beat this.”

Depression isn’t the same as other physical illnesses. You can “get over it” like a cold. Asserting that your friend could “beat” their depression assumes that they’re in control of it. Phrases that assume your friend has power over their mental illness also assumes that they are responsible for how they feel.

9. “Why don’t you just do more of what you enjoy?”

When someone is depressed the things that they would normally enjoy are no longer enjoyable. That is one of the most brutal parts of living with depression. The passions and interests your friend once had have lost their color. Simply crafting, or going for walks isn’t going to cure their mental illness.

10. “You should look on the bright side.”

Saying this implies that you do not understand the reality of depression. There is no bright side. Living with depression means your friend is struggling to find the bright side.

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11. “Don’t I make you happy?”

Your friends depression has nothing to do with you. Don’t assume they no longer like you or want to hang out with you because the chemistry of their brain has changed. You’ll only make your friend feel guilty and desperate by making their pain all about yourself.

12. “Happiness is a choice!”

Not when you’re depressed. Reducing your friends struggle to an easy choice to be or not to be happy is overly simplistic and offensive. They aren’t choosing to feel the way they do and they can’t just choose not to feel that way.

By avoiding these phrases and other similar phrases you will be in a better place to understand and support your friend living with depression. They need you to listen, love and support them without attempting to fix their problems.

Featured photo credit: Ryan Melaugh via flickr.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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