Dear Family & Friends:
I know you’ve noticed I have not been myself lately or actually for quite some time. You have asked me what’s wrong or how you could help me. I am battling depression. I am battling anxiety. I am battling panic attacks. Here are some things I think you could do that would encourage me during this very difficult time.
- Please don’t judge me. I judge myself mercilessly. I don’t know why I feel the way I do, but I’m trying to figure it out. Please show patience and support. I understand if you can’t but I’d rather you just walk away and leave me alone.
- Please don’t tell me to “snap out of it.” I don’t like feeling this way. Believe me, if I could just snap out it, I would have done so. If you think it’s that easy to “snap out of” than you don’t understand and yes you should definitely leave me alone.
- Please don’t tell me it’s all in my head. My heart hurts too. My body feels lousy, and often I feel as if I don’t even have the strength to put one foot in front of the other. When you say things like this, it’s like telling someone who is bleeding by the side of the road, “It’s all in your head. Just snap out of it.” Yes, I suffer from a mental illness. No, I’m not ashamed. Yes, I’m okay with people that can’t be truly understanding leaving me alone.
- I need encouragement and support. I need you to reach out to me and not allow me to continue to isolate myself. Call me. Invite me for a walk. Stop over to talk with me. Don’t take my reluctance or even a no for an answer. Most days I’m unable to drive or be in public places but that doesn’t mean I don’t need you right now. Pray with me and give me a hug. Hugs can bring more comfort than words can express. Let me cry when I need to. Sometimes I just need to let it all out. And, yes I cry for no reason but those cries are out of my control. If you can’t handle that then I’d rather you leave me alone and say nothing.
- Please tell me the truth, but speak it with kind words, compassion and love. I am a prisoner of my own harsh words. I do not need to hear scolding words from others. The Bible tells us to help the weak. (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Right now I am weak. Help me regain my strength. Your words are very powerful to me, especially negative ones. I hear them much louder than any other words you will ever say. If you can’t say nothing nice, than please don’t say nothing at all.
- I am under medical care and seeing a counselor, please understand that my doctor and therapists are here to help me figure out what’s wrong and how to get better. If you tell me what you think is wrong or what I should or shouldn’t do to get better, it confuses me and undermines my confidence in the people that are helping me that God has put in my life.
In the Bible there was a man named Job who was very depressed. His friends said all the wrong things to him. Listen to his advice to them. He said,
Won’t you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly? I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you. But that’s not what I would do. I would speak in a way that helps you. I would try to take away your grief (Job 16:3-5 NLT, emphasis added).
Please speak to me in a way that helps me. Encourages me. Remind me of the good things in my life. Help me trust God with all of this. Stand by me and tell me you love me, and then with your help and God’s I will be able to have the strength to fight this long, tough battle. It will help me to get healthier and stronger.
Thank you for wanting to help me, encourage and care about me.
With much love,