Thinking positive seems like the right thing to encourage when you see someone ‘down’ or in a difficult place in their life. I would like to talk about why this isn’t always the best thing to say or allude to
Having struggled in silence with depression, there are some things which I now notice which I didn’t before
One of which is this caption above. I’ll try and explain. Before I had depression, I’d probably think it’s a lovely saying, it’s encouraging, motivating and positive. Ah! That word – positive….thinking positive. When I struggle and honestly feel like I have no way out, no way to make things better and no support, especially from those I thought would understand. I try desperately to be positive. I am going to try to explain why, to someone who has / had depression, this isn’t always an encouraging image.
Some days are better, some are worse
Those better days are what you cling to, they are the ones you keep hoping for, praying for, begging for. They are what you promise yourself every time you have a moment and are feeling utterly alone and no one understands what’s going on.
For those who know me, you know that I twist everything into a positive, it winds some people up, but for me I always try and twist negatives into positives. Negatives get you down, positives give you hope. But when I was struggling and in those very dark places, I tried so very hard to be positive, to have hope, to look forward. Someone telling me to think / be positive, to appreciate what I have and how the olden days were much harder, or that they had it harder or achieved greater things than what I was doing, just didn’t exactly help. 🙂
When you are in these places of despair, ‘thinking positive’ isn’t encouragement, being there for the person, physically in person preferably, is encouragement. If you’re not able to be there physically, due to distance, then verbally support but please, not by using comparisons of your life / their life which only increases the feeling of loneliness. Instead try to lift the weight off their shoulders, that is what they need – they want to be freed of the burden they feel, even if it’s just temporarily.
Staying strong is a method of surviving
It was my method. Some people alluded to that I was only in this place because I was ‘too’ strong.
I didn’t have the heart to ask them if they would have rather seen me do the things I had planned for myself, my daughter and dog.
Being in such dark places, trying to be strong, trying to be positive, trying to keep it together is what I felt I did every second of the day so I am still here months later for my daughter and husband.
Get enough rest
During these times, when things are bad, rest doesn’t come easily. I found that I didn’t want to go to bed, I didn’t want to let my mind wander and remember what had happened that day/month/year, how isolated I felt. I would opt to settle on the sofa downstairs because it seemed to have more peace than my bed. Most nights when I felt sleepy and wanted to close my eyes, I’d feel tears running down my cheeks. I still do even though I (think) am better yet I have triggers because everything is still so raw.
It isn’t something which magically get’s better, it takes time and it takes an awful lot of energy to dig yourself out of that big dark hole.
You can’t do it all but you can do your best
Yet society tells you that you should be able to do it all. If you’re a stay-at-home mother then it’s subconsciously expected you’ll cook, clean, do the washing and shopping, entertain the kid(s) etc etc etc. And by people telling me to think positive, get a grip and be appreciative made me feel like I wasn’t doing my best and I should have been doing more.
Please, I beg you, before you try words of encouragement to someone who is finding things tough, just stop for a moment and think of the words you are going to say before saying them. Try and think of the battles they face and have already faced, support them in person, be an ear for them and listen properly not just go through the motions. They will truly thank you later for being there for them. Thank you x