It’s FYI Wednesday and I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such topics as motherhood and spirituality, children’s spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; here is the latest question asked by Everyone:
“What can/should you say to someone with depression, and what shouldn’t you say.”
My father-in-law, God rest his soul, was a lovely man and hated seeing me depressed. Whenever he saw me looking down he would smile and tell me: “Smile”. I know he was only trying to help, but to me, and millions who suffer along with me, saying that almost sounds like a command, or condemnation. It sounds to us like: “Why aren’t you smiling, there’s nothing wrong!” Or: “You should be smiling, you are ruining it for everybody else!” Both of those driving us deeper into our depression with thoughts of, “great one thing more I do WRONG!” It also drives us into isolating ourselves from those who love us. We feel a burden already so we want like anything to not disappoint, or sadden, or anger anyone; so we hid under masks of humour, smiles, just so you, our loved one, won’t be upset in anyway. That is how depression is, it makes us people pleasers so we don’t rock your emotional boat. This makes “lairs” of both you and us. Lairs because we feel trapped telling the truth and so we tell you liars to feel safe, safe as in you not hurting us, and you so you see us as “all right” so you don’t worry, this is especially true of children/teens/young adults.
It can also drive us to lash out when we just feel as if we can’t hid anymore. We lash out because we feel we can’t be truly who we are, even through being truly who we are is an ever changing thing. Many of us are dealing with emotional issues from abuse of all kinds. With those of us who have been abused the lashing out stems from a time when our voice was not heard or if it was it was ignored. When our truth was mocked, or silenced. We have learned that what we feel and how we feel it is of NO importance. It is the anger turned in on ourselves. We beat ourselves up because we can not beat up the one/ones who hurt us. And this leads to another personality trait: lack of communication, ineffectual communication. We were never taught, show, or allowed to communicate in a healthy way so we have a hard time with it. We can learn but it takes a partnership: you willing to let us know how you would like to communicate and us describing how we need to and learn to communicate.
Lastly, know we aren’t being depressed because we want to punish you, because it’s something we “do”, or for women especially, it’s our time of the month. Depression isn’t fun. It’s not something we do just cause, it feels as if we are so overwhelmed by darkness that it covers us like a black wet heavy blanket. It is suffocating us emotionally, making it hard for us to think, feel, sleep and eat. It is as if we are looking out the window and where you see butterflies and colour, we see dull shades of gray.