It is really hard to know how to help other people. And for other people to help me. Online, at least for me, the advice is right but what they mean is not. The advice about helping someone who is depressed seems usually to involve listening to them. This is right, if it means listening to what someone says helps them. For me, it is not right if it means expecting me to do the talking. On dark days the doors are shut; it doesn’t feel like a voluntary thing but rather a statement of my reality. Any kind of opening takes the kind of effort required to heave open a great oak door, barring the entrance to a castle that hasn’t moved for centuries. Opening the actual front door feels like that, opening my mouth feels similar. The words lurk somewhere down below in one of the twisting tunnels into which it is not quite possible to peer. Even then, those words aren’t about what’s wrong. I don’t need to talk through a problem. There is no problem, just not enough chemicals in my brain of the right sort. Not a lot to say about that. So I’d much rather hear you talk than do the talking myself. Actually that’s always the case, but typically that’s more to do with introversion than depression.
Perhaps there’s an underlying issue here which can be seen as a tendency to make assumptions and to assume everyone is the same, or could be viewed as a need, in order to give generic advice to make fairly sweeping generalisations. I have also come to wonder to what extent we make assumptions every day about how someone is feeling, what they mean, which come from our own experience and interpretation of the world and may not relate to the person we are hoping to be helpful to. It’s happened a few times here, where my intentions or implication has been interpreted differently to what I intended, and from my point of view a comment that was, I assume intended to be supportive did not really resonate with my actual thoughts and feelings. Or maybe that’s an assumption and there was a deeper point being made that I missed… I wonder how often it’s me that isn’t in line with how someone else is feeling, what they mean. In the end we can only make a best guess, alongside the right questions, with the intention to listen to the answer. I hope you’ll accept my best guess, while I endeavour to accept yours!