A friend’s depression (part 2)

by Jim on February 8, 2013


In my previous post of “A friend’s depression (part 1),” I talked about how I thought what I thought when my friend started describing his signs/symptoms of depression during a call he made to me. At the end of that article, I said that I would follow up with this story, and what may have caused his depressive symptoms, and what he may be able to do about it.

In full disclosure, my friend and I’ve talked since I’ve posted my previous blog/article. He said to me that in one area of that article I didn’t go far enough, and I aim to make up for that right now.

For many, many men, and for many, many women, and people in general… the mere idea of “Depression” is bullshit. For many, the idea of depression is that it’s “Whiny,” that people are just “bitchy,” and the idea of someone being depressed is just “crap.” Along with these ideas come the beliefs that “you need to “suck it up,” “keep the stiff upper lip” and “push through,” and “toughen up.”

In fact, I just went hiking the other day when I saw and heard a little girl say “I want you to hold me” as she and her brothers and sisters were running, all-a-smile down the fire trail trying to catch the baby sitter. The baby sitter said immediately “Big girls don’t need to be held. You’re a big girl, so you don’t need to be held.”

I have no doubt in any part of my being that the baby sitter was trying to help/inspire the little girl to keep running with the rest of “the pack.” I also know that the most innocuous of statements to our little ones can be interpreted and held as truth for years to come.

This brings me back to my friend who called me, and the truths that he’s held. He’s held that he’s the “adult in the room,” even since he was barely a teenager, that he’s always had to be the responsible one. While this is true of him, it’s true of boat loads of us, actually. What happens when we’re children who “need to be the adult in the room,” is that we lose our childhood, and from that, a part of ourselves can get fragmented off, leaving the adult part of ourselves feeling this emptiness inside.

Is this true of my friend? I don’t know. What I know is that told him that I know how strong he is, and that it’s time he let that go. It’s time to trust others, it’s time to reveal the vulnerable parts. He didn’t like these ideas. He doesn’t like revealing…and it’s understandable, if he reveals, he gets hurt. At least, that’s the experience he’s had in the past.

But it may not be the truth today, and I that’s why I gave him 3 referrals to workshops that I know work wonders to change my perspectives. I also told him not to go and see the first therapist that he can find. I told him to see at least 3 before he commits to one. I know that I’m not the “right” therapist for everyone, and I don’t want my friend just to accept a therapist because it says “Therapist” on the door.

One of the last things that I want to say about my friend and his depressive signs, isn’t about him, but about me, and maybe about you. Sometimes we know people who are genuinely depressed. Maybe they do whine, are nay-sayers, etc…. Then I have to make a decision of whether or not I want them in my life.

If I do, then how do I navigate this relationship. With my friend, I reflected back to him with many more specifics of what I’m saying here (He gave me permission to share what I was hearing him say). And in the bullet points that I listed, after each one, I said, “And this is something that you can talk with your therapist about.”

What I was doing there was setting up a “psychic safety” boundary for myself. Yes, I saw the areas where I would go if my friend were my client, but he’s not my client–he’s a friend. And I want to keep him as a friend. I know is that I have no control over what he does with my advice. I do know that for my psychic safety (in this case not having my friendship used as “Therapist all the time”), I set the boundaries by saying “And that’s something that you can talk with your therapist about.”

My friend has plenty of reasons to be feeling depressed. We all feel depressed at times, and sometimes it gets really bad. That’s when to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, in this case, it’s a sign that you’re willing to be receptive to another friends caring.

If YOU’RE feeling depressed, and it hasn’t gone away, yes, you can call or email me–if you’re in the State of California, and if not, please, call someone who will also take action to help you get through this trying time. One thing about depression that many don’t really seem to know is that it CAN be dealt with. Medication alone isn’t the best route. It’s talking about it, and no, talking about it isn’t whining.

Start with a deep inhale, and let it go. Then get some help so you can move forward in your life to getting what you want out of it.







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