When depression hits, it can hit hard. It might take all the energy a person has to go about their daily routine, if they can even manage that. So when a friend texts, even a simple “What’s up?” can be too much to answer. The person might be worried about what to say or might simply not be able to muster the energy to write a response.
When people currently dealing with depression don’t respond to their friends, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in maintaining that friendship. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. It means they might momentarily need a bit of extra understanding and love — even if that means patiently waiting for their reply.
To find out what people with depression wish they could tell their friends when they can’t text back, we asked people in our mental health community to share what they wish their friends knew.1
Here’s what they said:
1. “I really want to talk to you, honestly I do. But some times I just don’t feel like talking to anyone. Please don’t take any offense to it. I still love you. And I’ll be back once my head clears up.” — Kelly B.
2. “I’m not flaking, ignoring you or mad at you. I cannot get myself to be levelheaded or even just stop overthinking or worrying. Please be patient with me and know when I figure this out or can control this feeling I will reach out. Be patient with me.” — Ashly D.
3. “I love you, but it just takes too much energy to text, and I’m feeling so frail and so much like a disappointment that I could crumble at any second and don’t want to burden you. But I care and love you.” — Kasey M.
4. “I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy to talk to you right now. And I’m terribly afraid I might say the wrong thing and hurt you… Things are too twisted in my head right now, and I don’t want to inflict this on you.” — Afreen Z.
5. “I am so, so sorry for never replying to your loving messages. Even more so, because I know you see I’m active on Facebook. For some reason, Facebook is easy, but replying to real people with real love and care for me just takes so much energy.”3 — Alice H.
6. “I’m sorry, but I’m really just not up to talking right now. It’s not your fault, I’m just very depressed today and need some time to collect myself.” — Stephanie F.
7. “I want to talk, but I need some space. Sometimes I just don’t know how to reply. Sometimes I type out a message and then retype another again and again until I think there’s no point and delete it all.” — Nicola B.
8. “I feel horrible, I really do. I just don’t want to hurt you because every little thing is setting me off right now. I don’t like hurting people, and I definitely don’t want to hurt you.” — Ashley H.
9. “I wish you knew I’m not intentionally ignoring you. Please don’t stop texting me. I will respond. Sometimes, it takes longer than expected to say what I need to say because there are days I feel like a burden if I tell you I’m not OK, even if it’s true or not.” — Tatauq M.
10. “I haven’t got anything interesting or positive to say. I don’t want to be falsely positive. Because then you won’t know. But I don’t want to miserable in case I scare you off with being ‘down’ again. I just want to be held while in bed and sleep. And wake up with you still there. But I’ve got nothing to make you want to come over. Because I can’t stop crying.” — Robyn C.
11. “I would love nothing more but to talk to you. But right now I don’t have the mentality to deal with myself, and I need to focus on that. I will get through this, and I love you so much.” — Adriana R.
12. “Just bear with me and know it has nothing to do with how much I care about you… but absolutely everything I have is going into me getting through this right now. If I could change this I would. If you don’t understand it or can’t handle it, it’s OK and I would never be upset with you.” — Eowyn T.
13. “Thank you for texting me. I’m so happy you still talk to me even though I go through a roller coaster of emotions weekly. Thank you for still trying. I just can’t lie and say everything’s going well right now. I’m a little resentful that you can live life so effortlessly, but I admire that about you as well. So if I don’t respond, it’s just because I don’t want to bring you down. Because I love you.” — Ashley E.
14. “It’s nothing you have done, but right now even a conversation is too much for me. It exhausts me. But thank you for reaching out and being here for me. It means the world, you mean the world. I’m just sorry I can’t show you right now.” — Georgie R.
15. “I know I am a bit useless at replying, but just going through a hard space at the moment. It will pass, and it will get better, and I will get there, but it will take time. Please bear with me, and know I love your company but just can’t be ‘peopley’ at the moment.” — Arlene G.
16. “I would love to talk, but right now not talking is my way of taking care of myself. It’s a waste of my limited energy to text back and worry for the rest of the week if I said the right thing and be upset waiting for a response. I just need time.” — Ainsley H.
17. “Please don’t give up on me. I’m lonely and want to talk to you, but I just can’t right now, but know I love and appreciate you.” — Elizabeth I.
18. “Hey. I’m sorry I sometimes don’t reply or reply with one-word answers to your well-thought out and caring messages. I’m sorry I cancel plans. I feel like I have nothing interesting to contribute to conversations and feel tired and depleted by interactions with people. Sometimes I just need to retreat to the place where I feel safest — my bed. Know I do love you and care. I’m sorry, dear friend.” — Caitlin C.
19. “Sometimes communicating with anyone just depletes me. I have a family to take care of, and at the end of the day I just feel like I don’t have much more to give to anyone else.” — Jerri S.
20. “Sometimes it takes it out of me to pretend I’m OK. I love talking to everyone, but I also don’t want them to worry about me, so when I talk to people, I always like to act as though I’m great, even when I’m not. I’m scared of being a burden, and I know that’s ridiculous, especially with family as they want to help, but something about me doesn’t want to let them. The effort it takes to keep up that happiness and love for life is exhausting though, and I can rarely find it in myself to do it. I want to, I just can’t because it makes me feel worse knowing I’m essentially lying.” — Hayleigh W.
21. “I used to simply ignore people and wreck my friendships, but I have learned my real friends will understand. Sometimes I need to give myself some space before talking to them, but I text back as soon as I’m up to it and I say, ‘I’m having a hard time, and it’s nothing personal, but I need some down time and some space for the time being. I love you and thank you for being patient with me.’ I wish I was able to tell them how hard it really can be, but sometimes even that is difficult when I’m depressed. Some people won’t understand, but many will. I give them the chance to be understanding, and if they aren’t, then it can’t be an incredibly valuable relationship to them if they won’t try. It helps me determine who is good for me and who isn’t, and for that I think this is a good way to handle it.” — Manda W.
22. “No, I’m not mad at you. Yes, I still love you, and I really do care about what’s going on with you… but I just don’t have the energy to battle with myself about whether my reply is going to be OK. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to think of something to say. Please be patient with me. I won’t feel like this forever!” — Sarah B.
23. “I honestly just don’t know what to say. It’s hard for me to focus on what you’re saying, and I want to tell you what I’m going through. I want to communicate all of the pain, but I feel as if I’d be bothering you by laying it all out there. So instead, I just don’t say anything.” — Jen D.
24. “I’m OK, honest, I am. I just have to ride out this wave in my own way. Should I become not OK, I’ll reach out to whom I need to.” — Julz T.
25. “I’m struggling so much at the moment. I just can’t communicate with myself, let alone any one else. But I appreciate you being there more than you will ever know. Thank you for not giving up on me.” — Sonya H.
26. “I am to fuzzy-minded to talk to you right now. Trust me, I really want to talk to you, and this isn’t because I don’t like you, it’s just because right now I don’t have the energy to keep a conversation.” — Madolin G.
27. “Please, hold on. I’m going through a really tough time, but I love you. Thank you for checking up on me. I promise I’ll get back to you once the demons leave me alone.” — Nora J.