My best friend has depression.  Not currently controlled by medication level depression. Evil, soul-sucking Dementor-level, capital D, Depression.  Besides listening, and being there for her (which I am trying to do, & hope I am doing enough of), how else can I help?

I’ve never had depression myself, so I feel completely incompetent here, and all of the “advice” I’ve gotten so far is in the “just be there” vein.  I’m HERE, but she doesn’t exactly always want me here.  I’m listening, but she’s sick of talking.  Any advice – from you or your pranksters – would be much appreciated.

Depression is a dog from hell.

I’m a sufferer myself, so all I can say is that you have to remember that depression changes how we feel about the smallest things fundamentally — when I’m depressed, I look at a computer and sigh and feel like it’s draining me just to think about it. When I’m not, I passionately solve problems with technology; it’s my job!

The same thing goes for my feelings about interacting with people. I will disappear into a hole, reading Twitter and — get this — desperately wishing that someone would notice how lonely and crappy I feel and reach out to me. But I don’t say a word. And if someone DOES reach out I probably wouldn’t respond except to claim that everything’s all right. It’s completely irrational and stupid. But that’s what depression does! And it’s self-fulfilling once it gets a hold of you.

So the important thing is, does she recognize her symptoms? Is she seeking treatment, and it just isn’t quite enough yet? Or is she denying it?

If she’s getting treatment, then all you can do is encourage her to stick with it. Sometimes it can take years to work out the right balance, but if she goes off her meds or skips therapy sessions then try to help get her back on the horse.

If not, then encourage her to get help. I can’t stress this enough: it took a LOT of gentle nudges and convincing to get me to go, but I’ve had a lot of good years thanks to it.

And here I lean on the Pranksters for further advice!

————

Aunt Becky, my love

I often randomly IM you on AIM and ask you little questions, or just talk about little nonsensical things with you. I understand you have children and as much as I would enjoy having a chance to just sit down and talk with you one on one, I realize you need to tend to their needs, your needs, and your 8 million plus Orchids’ needs.

I just read your Go Ask Aunt Becky about the woman who has depression. I am definitely feeling a bit of the same. I can’t snap out of it.

I was on antidepressants for a year, but I hated them, they actually made me miserable. I had quit taking the antidepressants (had a major crash) and quit taking my birthcontrol as well. I figured ingesting so many hormones was just fucking with me.

I felt a hell of a lot better afterwards. For about a month.

I am, in fact, more cheerful and much happier at home and with my relationship. I usually have no problems getting off my buttocks and going to the store or cleaning the house but, and there’s always a but! (heh heh..butt)

I cannot, for the life of me, get the motivation to go to school.

I go to a vocational school to learn to cut hair. So, basically I’m paying about 10k to work for free. I enjoy the work itself.

I love cutting hair, coloring it, styling it, etc. I just hate the people there.

My “coworkers”/”classmates”, the teachers. It’s like being in highschool s that one word or two?) all over again. We’re supposed to have theory on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I stopped going a long time ago because it was just 3 hours of gossip. Talking about the students not there, mocking them, laughing at how they can’t do something.

I should point out that they’re speaking in a language I am not fluent in. I do understand what they’re saying, although I make it seem that I am clueless and stupid.

They’re very racist towards me. Most of the people I have met are racist towards anyone of a different nationality. If you are not fluent in the language, they are even more racist towards you.

It’s common that you meet someone at the bar and you’re a tourist or you’re not native, the first thing they ask you is “Why are you here” and then they ask you “When are you leaving?”

It’s happened to me on many occasions. I am even a citizen here, and it makes me crazy.
It’s horribly depressing and I just don’t know what to do anymore. My husband is worried about me and my father is being a dick. I have no idea how to handle this situation in a way that is socially acceptable.


If I’m lucky, I get to move back to the USA by the end of this year, but there are no certainties. I have nothing definite to look forward to to ease my troubles.

I’ve considered going to see a shrink, just to have someone to talk to about all of it. I just have an issue of having these expectations of said shrink. For instance I want them to ask me questions, talk to me, tell me what they think, see if they have advice to help me target these feelings.


I’m not sure if I am angry or if I am depressed.

I’m rambling and confused. I do get enraged over small, stupid little things. To the point of wanting to throw a bottle of bourbon through the funeral parlor window… (I hope you get the reference).

What do I do!?

-Gone to HEL

Dear Gone to HEL,

Firstly, let me just say that being frustrated and put off by gossiping racist fuckhead morons seems like a pretty reasonable reaction to your situation. I used to work in an office which was a lot more like a frat house than an office, including hazing and all the other BS.

At first, I thought that it was just a job and I would just ignore the antics and get the experience I wanted…but after a while I found myself straddling a fence: I wasn’t participating in the antics so I wasn’t respected and not included in the decisions I should have been. So I’d participate some, but then I felt I was betraying my own values. It wore me down and plunged me into the worst depressive time in my life.

I eventually quit and found another job, but I also got help for my depression. In doing so, I was able to make better decisions about what I wanted, and I was able to find a job a really liked — I have been there ever since.

So — step one: get through the depression symptoms. Once you can think about it clearly, then you can take a look at whether this school or career choice is right for you; perhaps this is only a step to tide you over until you find what you really want to do. But the important thing is to take a step. If the therapist isn’t what you wanted, try another one; if you had a bad reaction to one drug, try another. Doing nothing will feel much worse.

————-

I am 27 and I have been in two real relationships.  I’ve dated here and there but these two relationships were the serious ones.  Both lasted around three years.  The problem with this is they were both highly abusive relationships.  My partners were brilliant people but also mean, angry, and negative.  I spent most of both of those relationships being told what to do and paying high emotional and sometimes physical consequences for it.

I have taken almost a year off of having a serious relationship and have recently started to really fall for a guy.  There are many things that are different even at the beginning of the relationship.  He asks my opinions and seems to want to hear the answers.  He doesn’t push me when I don’t agree with him.  He has a career and future goals.  Really, he seems much different than my previous partners.

And I am different now.  I have been going to therapy and taking medications and doing all the things that are supposed to make you a better decision maker.

I can’t shake that I was the common denominator in my previous relationships though.  I don’t think I caused them to act the way they did but I let them.  I stayed for years in relationships that literally almost killed me.  How do I trust my judgment now and can I even actually trust my judgment at this point?  How do I know that this guy doesn’t suck just as much as my last two partners?

Okay, so look: the fact is, you simply won’t know for sure. But you DO know what you went through those last times, and you know that you don’t want to go through it again, right? So make yourself a promise RIGHT NOW: you will not stand for a mean, angry, negative person in your life.

If things change with this guy, if you see it going down that road, then you turn right around and walk out that door. As I said in my earlier response, depression makes you irrational, and it makes it seem so much easier to deal with what you already are dealing with than to make an unknown change — and THAT is likely to be more the common denominator than you as a person.

So, it sounds like this guy has some qualities that show he is deserving of a chance — I’d say the best thing you can do to be more confident in your judgment is to exercise it! Tread lightly, build the core friendship that a good relationship is founded on, and enjoy yourself.

Today is today, and you are more aware, and you deserve to be with someone who treats you well. Don’t let the past hold you back, but don’t lose the lessons you learned from it either. Stick with your meds and your therapy, and just remember to never again compromise yourself the way you did in the past. I wish you luck!

———

And if you want to vote for Your Aunt Becky, who I graciously nominated for Funniest Blogger, you can do so here. Voting is once per day per person until July 11.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

24 Responses to Go Ask THE DAVER!

  • blueviolet says:

    There’s some sound, solid advice here actually. Depression sucks. Thank God for meds, and for the fact the stigma associated with them is becoming less and less over time.

  • Jessica says:

    *sigh*

    This is my life right now. Haven’t you noticed? But, the good news: I’m telling my life story. So it’s gotten interesting for everyone. Even me.

    PS: Hi. How are you?

  • Totally with the Daver on the depression issue. Depression needs treatment,therapy, medication and support of your family and friends. It is nothing to be ashamed of and something that can be treated. I hope everyone is getting the care that they need.

  • mumma boo says:

    Excellent advice, the Daver! Fellow Pranksters, keep trying until you hit upon what works best for you. Therapy, meds, groups, writing about it, reaching out to your Fellow Pranksters for help – whatever you need to keep going. It’s a hard journey, but it WILL get better. Good luck. We’re all pulling for you.

  • Old Hippy says:

    Maybe this will help ?
    http://4viola.blogspot.com/
    Im just a newbee,a mechanic paying it forward.
    Old Hippy

  • Melissa says:

    Word! I am glad my novel of a comment got eaten. You just said it better.

    I will give my standard though, because it is so real. Depression LIES!

  • amber says:

    I too, am routinely beaten down by the bully that is depression (halfway pinned right now, as a matter of fact), and the one thing I would add to the Daver’s first answer, is that if the gentle nudges aren’t working, a little in-your-face brutal honesty might work.

    Sometimes I need someone to tell me point blank, “hey asshole, you’re being stupid. Don’t let this damn thing beat you.”

    Just a thought. Because depression? Is a liar. But a very, very, very convincing one.

  • 100DaysinBed says:

    Wow, this is all so good. I love your blog and I’m glad I found it.

    I’ve been down that hole with a bag of Cheetos and the covers pulled over me for months so I really get this post.

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  • Mary says:

    Depression can make you think you have no alternatives, that you are trapped. I think that is the biggest lie of all. There is always a way out. Sometimes it takes baby steps. Sometimes you need to change yourself so other people will respect you. Therapy and meds will help you to see the situation clearly and that’s when the change starts. That is the beginning of the way out. Not to say that you will never be depressed again, but you will have an arsenal of tools to survive and overcome the depression.

  • Tinkermac says:

    Thanks for this blog! I have suffered from the evil D for years It has robbed from me years of my life. I have a wonderful husband who tries very hard to understand, but it does take its toll. When people speak so openly and honestly it reminds me that I’m not alone. Thank you, again.

  • katrina says:

    Depression sucks, and it is a very, very convincing liar. You feel drained and trapped, because your depression has convinced you. You can’t see the light because the depression causes you to hide in darkness. It seems hopeless, but it is NOT! Like the Daver said, get help,counseling, meds….(keep trying, i had go go though a whole shitload before i found one that worked for me—some made me more depressed and suicidal than i already was…..our bodies are made up of chemicals….and different ones work for different people). But DON’T GIVE UP! You are special and you DESERVE to be happy. Think about the stars and how your very atoms are the stuff of the universe. Beware of darkness. Choose hope.

  • Sharon says:

    Great advice all round, Daver, as usual. Maybe I can add something about therapists. I have on who uses Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Love, love, love it. She is there to listen compassionately and will even sit patiently while I try to blame my whole life on my mother, but by the end of the session I have been gently nudged towards taking real steps that lead to real improvement in a very short period of time. There are lots of other approaches out there, each with merits, but for my depression, I needed improvements sessions that didn’t involve me just going over and over the problems.

  • Jacquie says:

    My co-worker had a complete breakdown last fall. Right in front of me. At work. I saw it coming, thought “talking it out” would help, but ultimately nothing short of medication was going to get her out of the black hole she was in. She took a month off (okay, I’m not a co-worker, more like her boss so there wasn’t a chance she could lose her job), got medicated, and came back to work, wobbley, unsure, but not suicidal anymore. It took awhile for the stuff to really kick in, but when it did, what a change. This wonderful person was clouded by depression most of her life. She didn’t even know it, she was so used to it.

    Happy ending? No, things are still tough for her. All the decisions made earlier “under the cloud” still are present in her life. But she doesn’t dwell anymore, and she moves on and makes better decisions which has that snowball effect that will make her future surely brighter.

    I wish every person could see who they really are with clear eyes. And I wish everyone had more compassion for those that can’t.

  • Krissa says:

    I would be a totally different, (and pitiful), person without my anti-depressants. I am SO glad I am back on them! I can’t say it enough: If you feel depressed/angry/resentful/negative, get help!

  • ScienceGeek says:

    Something I’ve always found good for the Black Blahs is just to get out of the house. If you can add exercise, so much better. For the wonderful friend trying to help – drag her out for coffee, or better yet, a walk. Promise a big piece of cake at the end. Call her when you know she’s down and say ‘Cafe. Don’t argue.’ She might try, because that’s the depression talking, but the sane part of her will be incredibly grateful.

    HEL, hon, I empathise. But I think it’s the nasty bitches at your school that are the problem, not you. If they’re your only source of ‘outside’ social interaction, no wonder you’re so down. Can you look online for fellow ex-pats in your area you can spend some time with? Alternatively, I work at a university, and there are always language students begging for a native speaker they can practice with. Look around, see if there’s any students learning your native language at your school who’d LOVE to talk to you. Like, falling over themselves, will buy you coffee and chocolate cake if you’d explain what a ‘crotch parasite’ is, exactly, LOVE. And it’d help you with your current language difficulties, so win:win.

    Last woman: You spent years with men who told you, over and over again, that you’re not smart enough to make the right decision. But you were brave enough and smart enough to walk away from them. Now, your depression/battered self-esteem are trying to tell you the same thing. So tell them to fuck off, too! Even if you don’t decide to take it further with this man (who sounds worthy of a chance, if you’re willing to accept the opinion of random internet strangers!), stop letting your own mind treat you as badly as your ex’s did.

  • I have no advice to add, but I do thank you for this post. I think the more people can learn about depression, the better. Thank you.

    • The Daver says:

      It’s a lot harder to explain than, say, a 104 degree fever or a tumor on an MRI or a huge goiter sticking out of your neck. Someday maybe we’ll fully understand how it all really works, and we can prevent it, but in the meantime a little patience and sympathy (not pity) can’t hurt!

  • Wendy says:

    Excellent advice from the Daver (could there be any other?)

    Just wanted to throw out here that Bipolar Disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression and/or anxiety. This happened to me by my primary care doc and the anti-A meds he put me on not only didn’t work, but set of a chain of full-on batshit craziness.

    Many cities offer counseling centers (some even on sliding scales) that incorporate nurses, counselors and other professionals to more precisely diagnose, treat, and wage war on these difficult mind bugs.

    • Old Hippy says:

      One more misdiagnoses – Hypogonadism, low Testosterone. Thats me for the last 15 years. Low Testoserone levels can cause major depression and Bi-Polar symptoms.
      Check out da Blogg.
      Namaste, Old Hippy

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