My Depression Deserves Personalized Space to Breathe
Talking is something that has never failed to help me positively navigate my depressive thoughts. Empathetic conversations with friends are soothing to me in moments of intense sadness related to my depression. Not all conversations with a trusted individual go as planned though. I need an individual to sit with me in the discomfort of vulnerability. When we spew negativity out at individuals they tend to try and help us by searching for a solution. As well-meaning as this may be, my depression never begs to be fixed; only heard and accepted.
What Space for my Depression Looks Like
When I am seeking space for my depressive thoughts I tend to speak about topics that can make people uncomfortable. I could speak about how I feel as if sleeping is better than being awake because there are no responsibilities when I am sleeping. Sometimes I speak about how I do not know how to get out of bed today. Most times my thoughts are running around so rampantly that all I can manage to say is that I am sad today.
As a young lesbian, my depression tended to stem from my sexuality and questions surrounding it. These talks would make my family and friends uncomfortable as well. My mentioning a heartbreak related to a woman I loved was something not all individuals close to me were able to sit with in a supportive way. My attempts to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community resulted in a « fixing » mentality at times as well.
Depression Conversations Trigger Fixing Mentality
It is my experience that people who care about you want to help fix these ailments you share with them. It is human nature to want to provide help and find assistance if someone we care about is suffering. The problem with this type of thinking is not all those who seek out a conversation with a friend or community member are doing so on the premise of being fixed.
I share my depressive thoughts because it lifts a weight off my shoulders to have someone know how I feel. My sadness doesn’t always go away but my feeling of isolation can be lifted. No one benefits from feeling alone.
When a friend allows me space to be uncomfortable and sits in that discomfort with me, I am gaining what I need at that moment. None of my needs consist of fixing my depression or discomfort.
Normalize and Individualize Depression Conversations
The barrier I see between an individual who needs to speak out and an individual supporting them is the avoidance to ask questions. We are all different and benefit from different types of dialogue. Ask your friends or community members or family how you can best support them.
I think it is also important to remember that not all conversations are comfortable. This is okay. Some individuals may benefit from a fixer mentality or some, like me, benefit from just the space to be themselves.
What does your space look like?