1. If I cancel plans, don’t take it personally. Sometimes I’m just too depressed to leave the house. It’s not your fault or mine.
2. Reminding me that the circumstances of my life really aren’t that bad doesn’t make me feel any better. I know I have a good job and really supportive family and friends. Unfortunately, that doesn’t negate my depression! Those reminders can be nice at times, but often times it feels like people tell you that as code for “Why are you so sad? You shouldn’t be.”
3. Don’t bring up my worst moments out of the blue. If we’ve been friends for a while, chances are, you’ve seen me go through some shit. Bringing up my lowest moments out of the blue or if we’re in a fight is not OK.
4. If things are really bad and you reach out, I might not respond. It’s nothing personal, it just feels exhausting to explain yourself when you’re in an intensely depressive state, even to a close friend. And even if I don’t respond, I really appreciate you reaching out.
5. Don’t talk about depression like it’s something I can “beat.” Unlike a level of Candy Crush, depression isn’t something you “battle” and subsequently “beat.” It’s not about beating, winning or losing, it’s about managing your depression.
6. It makes me feel bad when you deride me for not being fun enough. I know I leave, like, every party super early and might not be the most energetic. That’s because in order to go out, I have to fight every impulse not to. I’m doing my best. I know you saying that comes from a good place — You want to party with me! — but joking about how I’m no fun anymore makes me feel impotent.
7. Having a mental illness isn’t cool. Even though Lana del Rey can sing about suicide that makes it seem romantic, having a mental illness sucks. Don’t fetishize me as your artsy, romantically tragic friend with mental illness. It doesn’t give you street cred to have a sick friend
8. We all have different coping mechanisms, so don’t compare me to your other depressed friends. People are depressed for different reasons — or no reason at all — and we all have our own coping mechanisms. Please don’t lump me in the category of your crazy friends.
9. Don’t give me shit for taking medication. I know your New Age aunt told you all about the evils of big pharma, but taking medication prevents me from dying, so I don’t really care about your opinions on the matter!
11. Don’t tell me how to handle my depression. While I agree that leaving my apartment or doing something productive might help me, you repeatedly suggesting I do that makes me feel bad about myself. Depression can be crippling at moments, and you’re basically stuck. It sucks.
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12. I am not my depression. I’m also my anxiety and my ADHD. JK. But I am capable of experiencing a rainbow of different feelings. If you define me by my mental illness, it makes me feel like that’s all I am. Knowing you appreciate me for being the complex and real-ass human person I am when I’m in the worst possible state can make me feel a little more whole.