cathy terranova blog

“Depression is hard.”

That doesn’t really sum up depression. Even the word, “depression”, is limiting. There are different types and degrees of depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, Major (or Clinical) Depression, Dysthymia, Post-Partum, and the lesser known “Post Party Depression” (which I learned about while trying to see if I spelled partum correctly). I am not sure about the medical accuracy of Post Party Depression, but the rest are very very real. Bipolar episodes of depression can last for months at a time.

All of these different kinds of illnesses need treatment; some different, some the same.

Here are things that we want to tell you but we can’t. Because we’re depressed. But you need to know, because we’re depressed.


Do not diagnose yourself or your friends or anyone. Not even if you’re a psych major. Okay. Especially if you’re a psych major.
Don’t look things up on the internet and think that you know what is going on because you read a list of symptoms on WebMD.

It can be difficult to resist the urge to want to understand what’s happening from a medical standpoint. Knowing the symptoms gives you a false sense (however comforting) of understanding. The truth is the uncomfortable fact that no one can understand what’s happening except the sick person.


2. Don’t ask what you can do to help, just do things.

When I talk to people who are overwhelmed whether it’s with illness, life circumstances, or anything else that’s overwhelming I get a similar complaint. They don’t know what they need. They don’t know how to ask for help because they have no clue where to begin.

So the best thing you can do to combat this is to just do things. Do dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, dog walking, errands, whatever. Mow their lawn. Get their car an oil change. Send them a card with a gift card in it. Take them out to lunch or dinner. Bring them food. Depending on the person, bring them wine. Take their kids out for the afternoon. Plan to come over and drink coffee. Just try to be part of their life as best you can. Most people want help, they just don’t know how to ask or what to ask you to do. You can’t wait on them to figure it out because once they do it means the worst of it is over.

Just do things for them. Spend your time and money on them. I’m not kidding.


3. It’s okay to worry.

It is really okay to worry about us. We’re not okay. We need help. Life seems to be stuck in a pit of suck. It is really really okay if you are worried. But remember that worrying doesn’t fix anything. You can’t actually fix anything. But we do appreciate the concern.


4. Sometimes we’ll be jerks.

Depression makes you selfish. You’re so sad and chemically screwed up that you can’t feel anything or see anything past yourself. When you’re selfish you’re a jerk. You push people away, you don’t consider other people’s feelings, you really could care less about other people’s problems. Please deal with us gracefully. Call us on our crap and know that we don’t like being this way.


5. Get prepared for the long haul.

Sometimes depressive episodes can last months, even years. Treatment is necessary and important. Please don’t abandon us because it takes longer than a few days to get better. Please be patient. Please be prepared for this to affect every aspect of our lives. Please understand that this will impact your relationship with us. It’s a little part of your day, but it consumes all of ours.


6. This is complicated.

There are lots of different ways and degrees that people experience depression. No one case follows an exhaustive list of rules and expectations. Even if you have struggled through depression, know that it may affect someone else in an entirely different way. Listen and pay attention. We have unique needs and we can help you understand if you do the work to wrestle it out of us.


7. We hate ourselves.

Seriously, nothing brings on the self-hate like depression. We hate the way we look, the way we’re sad, the way everything is irritating, the fact that we have no stamina or patience, we hate everything: including ourselves. Especially ourselves.


8. We’re not going to snap out of it.

There is no magic pill or movie montage re-creation that will heal us. This is going to suck until it doesn’t suck anymore. Admitting that we are depressed and then not being better a day later is normal. We aren’t going to wake up in a couple weeks and be fine. You can’t say anything to snap us out of it. We can’t shop, eat, drink, or dance our way out of depression.


9. It’s not your fault

When we hate ourselves, are sad, get angry, get frustrated, hide from you, don’t return your calls: It’s not your fault. A big, scary beast is trying to devour us alive and it is not your fault. You didn’t unbalance our chemicals. You didn’t sneak into our rooms at night and steal all of our serotonin (unless you did, then it totally is your fault and give it back!). It’s not your fault.




Please, please, just be present for us. Be patient. Be kind. Be our friends even when it’s hard. Who knows when it might be your turn.





photo credit: <a href=”″>Mr Newman: The World’s Saddest Dog is Back.  @ChrisMichel</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

advice, anxiety, Boundaries, C-PTSD, care giving, caregivers, comfort, complex trauma, courage, depression, family, friends, Grace, healing, hope, invisible illness, mental illness, patience, PTSD, recovery, rethink trauma, special needs, therapy