The Millennials and Gen Z- the most organized yet a messed-up generation. They have an organized Instagram feed, aesthetic home decors, and Pinteresty bedrooms. But their lives? It’s a whole new messed up world out there. As I write this today, let me tell you that I’m a millennial too. And my life is everything explained above. I’m sure you can relate too. If you’re tired of the constant judgments and hear “don’t overreact man!”, every time you express yourself, please continue reading.
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.
Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
― Stephen Fry
More than 90% of the millennials and Gen Z today are either depressed or dealing with anxiety, bipolar personalities, and stress. There has been a rise in the numbers by up to 47% since 2013. While we are neck-deep into it, the efforts taken to eradicate it is almost nothing compared to the number of cases.
The main reason for it is because the people who have been dealing with mental issues are too scared to express themselves. They are in fact just too done with telling people how they feel and getting “Chal na yaar, itna bhi kuch nahi hota” (come on, it’s not a big deal) in return.
Do you really think these words that you say are of any help to someone having zero motivation to live? Trust me; people dealing with depression don’t even hear these words anymore. It’s like you’re talking to a wall. So here’s an advice. STOP doing it!
Here are 5 things you need to stop saying to depressed people right away:
1. IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY. JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IT
This statement just shows how unbothered you are towards them. There’s a difference between sadness and clinical depression. If you are talking to someone who is just sad, statements like these can work, and maybe the person will let it go. But clinical depression can make a person have negative thoughts so easily that everything you say might backfire. It is not easy to just let go of things. Ruminating is a major part of being depressed. It simply means that a depressed person is more likely to have flashes from the past frequently. They keep thinking about an incident or a bad situation repetitively which makes them feel worthless and helpless.
Telling them to not think about it without knowing what “IT” is can actually make them think about things they weren’t even thinking in the first place. Confusing, right? That’s exactly how people having mental issues feel- confused all the time. So the next time you say- “Don’t think about it”, do not expect a response like- “Thanks, mate. That really helped. My anxiety just went down the flush in a jiffy.” Just in case, if they do respond that way, congratulations! You’ve just been killed with sarcasm. That’s your hint to stop saying it.
2. DEPRESSION IS JUST A FANCY WORD. YOU’RE JUST SAD
I cannot stress enough on this one. Being sad and being depressed are two very different things. Judging someone and denying the fact that they are depressed will only make them feel like they are insane. The worst repercussion of this statement can be that they might just shut the whole world out. They will start to bottle their stress and emotions up because they will have nobody to talk to. The main reason why people refuse treatment or therapy is that they lose faith in people and they train their brains to not open up due to the fear of judgments.
As normal as it may sound to you, the impact of this statement is much much worse. You need to stop saying it. No questions asked.
3. STOP MAKING IT A BIG DEAL. THINK OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN WORSE
Really? Now we are going to compare every other person’s life here? Why do we even say this?
I have never heard anyone saying the opposite to happy people. Have you ever heard someone saying, “it’s no big deal, look at all the people who have better than you”? We never say that to cheerful people. If you have come across someone who says that, you seriously need to stay the heck away from those people.
So don’t dismiss the situation saying it’s not a big deal. It might not be for you, but to them it might feel like someone has stabbed a sword in their back. Or maybe like their soul has left their body. They can be dying from inside and you will never even know. So mind your words a little. It is a big deal.
4. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. JUST HANG IN THERE
Haven’t we heard this all the freaking time? Especially now in this pandemic, everyone out there is chanting this phrase like it’s sacred. This cliché has been living for years now and it’s high time we break the chain. While this statement is true, the person dealing with a mental illness may not have the perspective to entertain that; let alone believing it.
You might say this out of care and love for the person, but it might just pass in a vacuum having no effect on the listener. Statements like these can backfire, making them panic over the uncertainty in their life which might make them feel helpless, having no control over the situation.
5. IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. GET OVER IT
This is the most inconsiderate and self-centered thing you can ever say to anyone. People dealing with mental issues may have hallucinations or imaginary situations in their head sometimes. But calling it out in that manner can have terrible consequences. They might misinterpret your words and assume that you’re calling them crazy. You can’t tell a person to get over something just like that. They can be having suicidal thoughts and your rude manner can make them feel unwanted. The last thing you would want is to make an already depressed person feel undesirable and of no good.
BONUS: THINK POSITIVE. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
For a person who has anxiety and who shivers every time a bad news comes in, thinking positive can take time. Therapists often use cognitive reframing to help patients replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. It is a process that develops with time and you can’t cut short.
Telling a person plainly to “think positive” doesn’t help. Statements like “count your blessings” is dismissive of the medical condition. There will always be good and then there will be bad situations. You can’t completely tell them to ignore the bad and only focus on the good. It simply loses the balance of life. Take the “Yin and Yang theory” for that matter.
Try saying something like the following instead:
- I understand how you feel. I’m here for you.
- Would you like to talk it out?
- Do you need a hug?
- Would you like to go out for dinner?
- What do you want to do to make your mood better? (always ask, don’t decide yourself)
- If you feel like letting it out and cry, cry all you want. I won’t judge. I’m going to sit here and listen to everything you say. Whenever you’re ready to share.
- Call me whenever you need someone to listen to.
It is a difficult time. Depression, anxiety, and stress have been so common in this generation that the society has started to normalize it (which is so wrong, by the way). The more you normalize these traits, the more they will develop. Mental health is important. If you are unable to cope with situations mentally, you’re not going to be able to tackle it. A peaceful state of mind is something everyone deserves. Judgments for being low and sad all the time is something nobody deserves.
You need to learn that being there for someone who is depressed, does not necessarily mean giving bits of advice or suggestions. Sometimes you just need to be there and LISTEN. Just listen. And stay away from the clichés that the society has been using all these years.
Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be there and listen- not to respond, but to understand.