Today, I heard the very sad news about Kate Spade. I cannot image what she was going through at the end. I grieve for her, for her loved ones, for those that have lost the struggle with depression, and for those that have lost a loved one to suicide.
I have had my struggles with depression. I have “functioned” with a smile on my face, all while feeling dead on the inside. However, I responded well to medication and therapy. I know that I am fortunate.
Mental illness does not have the stigma that it did 30 years ago. There is better understanding (and education) about many different mental illnesses that people hid so long ago. Having a mental illness does not make you weak, it makes you a person who is dealing with a disease that is as real as any other “physical” illness.
I don’t know what one should say to a person struggling with depression, as that can be difficult. Just as different physiology deals with cancer differently, different physiology deals with depression differently. There is no one size fits all words of comfort and help.
That being said, I know that you should not tell a person struggling with depression that it is all in their head (it is not). You should not say “How can you be depressed when you are so fortunate? Smile, everything is fine.” Someone said that to me, and I can speak from personal experience, it was a horrible thing to say. It made me feel worse. It made me feel like I didn’t deserve what I did have, and it brought me to a darker place. Comments like that do not help. People know what they do and do not have, and whether or not they are fortunate. Depression has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have.
What I do know is that there are resources out there that can help, and there is no shame in asking for it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255