To Love the Depressed

You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy. Look at your friends and family and say that to them regularly. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy. Send your loved ones a text in the middle of the night. Give them a call and ask them to lunch. When they cross your mind, consider it a sign, and let them know that you are there, with them.

When a celebrity dies of suicide, there seems to be a traditional barrage of think pieces on the nature of suicide, the hotline numbers sufferers of depression might call, desperate pleas that loved ones might seek help if they need it. But seek help from who? From the stranger at the end of the 1-800-WE-CALL-THE-POLICE hotline number? From the psychiatrist that they cannot afford? At the appointment that they don’t have the energy to make?

What if, instead, it was you? What if, like someone adjacent to a person suffering from terminal disease, you brought them a basket of the things they needed, held them while they cried, or memorized a Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine and barged into their apartment with it like Kramer?

Emotional labor is hard. It is especially hard to perform for someone who does not have the capacity to reciprocate. But sometimes, instead of reciprocation, we need to assume that we are paying it forward— that when that person’s illness is in remission, they will be a soldier for you, that the radical vulnerability that you practice is mutually beneficial. Depression can be wild, all encompassing, and crushing. It can make a person feel sub-human. It can make them feel unworthy of your help, of your labor.

To that end, I suggest the “My 3” app, instead. It helps you set emergency numbers of people who are safe for you to call in crisis. People who will support and listen to you. People who will send you messages telling you that you are loved, you are wanted, and you are worthy. It can be found and downloaded here: http://my3app.org/. To those living with folks suffering from suicidal ideation, please try to just be a member of the community. Be a quiet, meditative listener. Witness your friends, do not surveil them. Validate their pain, acknowledge it as real and surmountable. Offer to help them get through it. Do it together. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy.

One thought on “To Love the Depressed

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