I am bipolar 2 that means I’ve been depressed since I was 13 years old. Depression is just a fraction of my problem. the other challenges in my life are that I was sexually molested at age 9, I have daily flashbacks. I have other traumas bad enough to give me PTSD. additionally I have learning disabilities that have been significant barriers to my becoming socialized. getting an education that might have allowed me to be independent financially has been problematic. I have known and lived in poverty my whole life. I began to become fully cognizant of my situation in early adulthood as I experienced my first onset of bipolar 2 depression. By then I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I would caution your readers that there are certain sufferers and survivors of depression that don’t have friends and family that care about them. My whole family is suffering from mental illness. mostly they’re depressed. Now that I’m 65 most of them have passed Beyond this Vale of Tears. To be perfectly honest with you I confess that I am antisocial. I thank God that at least I’m an alcoholic!! If I wasn’t an alcoholic I would never have discovered the 12-step program. It literally saved my life and I would never have known love and connection except that I lost everything to this hideous dual diagnosis!! In spite of my being antisocial I have made a few friends. I hate it when, adding to my discomfort with being one down in a social situation where someone, whom I cannot assure myself that they have taken care of their own depression issues, may or may not have empathy for my situation, asks me if I’m depressed. To be honest I am paranoid!! I have been abused and patronized because my depression is so physically obvious. Most people don’t want to hear this about other people who have disabilities. This doesn’t mean however that God has forsaken me. I have long since given up the comfort of thinking I could kill myself and that a successful suicide excuses me of the responsibility of my task of finding meaning in life. God is such a great God!! He made a way for me when there was no way. What’s stopped me me from committing suicide is the intervention of the Holy Spirit and, occasionally, a human intervention usually by somebody as bad off as me but not quite ready to pulled the plug on themselves. Only those ones who have walked in my shoes can know what the ebb and flow of Hope is like for one who is chronically depressed.
//if you haven’t heard from them since Christmas. They just haven’t had the mental energy to do it.
Sit with them. Talk to them. Ask probing questions.
Directly ask them if they’ve been thinking of suicide.//
I would say if you consider yourself to be somewhat normal and stable emotionally and you know someone who may have recently lost a loved one, or you may have some reason to know for a fact what is triggering their depression then by all means ask those probing questions. What would I have like to have happened for me to overcome my depression? That may be the wrong question to ask. I know this might sound strange. Depression, for some of us, is a calling, a vocation. If one such as I can survive it others have also in my humble opinion. And we have known the full range of the hideousness of Life On Life’s terms as chronic depressives (and possibly addicts as well). In the 12-step program I follow all of this is great news for those who suffer the depth of depression I have known. Perhaps my life has meaning because I can speak to that of God in someone who suffers as I do. In such a situation one who has worked through their material has the depth of empathy that can reach pain of such intensity. I have had many Divine appointments where I felt the Holy Spirit give me the words to speak to someone at the point of death.
//Bringing it up, and not acting shocked when they admit it’s been on their mind, is freeing and de-stigmatizing. It can give permission to talk freely about their emotions and thoughts, without feeling embarrassed or shamed for thinking about suicide.//
There are a lot of assumptions in this statement. I have known the depth of depression where I am thinking of myself as a dead person, completely disconnected from society and social engagements and therefore extremely jealous of the living who experience happiness, who move freely in life and have normal balanced emotions. Some of the reactions of the extremely depressed will be not as you would wish. You may be surprised and appalled if they reject you and become extremely angry at you!!
//be available and willing to do something.//
Sometimes all you can do is witness someone’s pain and leave it to God. Stay in communication with God and he will show You, by way of the Holy Spirit, what you can do.
//You can start that by realizing this is the time of year their struggle can be the most difficult, and that this season might be when they need you most.// what and how someone who’s depressed needs from you is extremely problematic and there are no easy answers. Don’t expect there to be!!