Have you found someone you know is depressed and is exhibiting symptoms of Bipolar Depression? This is a tough situation to be around. Here are some suggestions of what things to avoid doing while you’re around them.
- Telling them to smile. It can be a well-meant suggestion, but this doesn’t help them, it makes them more dishonest with the way they’re feeling. Trying to cover up their depression is a bandaid solution to a cancerous problem. They’re showing signs of sadness not because they can help it, but because they can’t. Don’t try to make them express something they don’t feel.
- Ignoring them. This may be harder and less realistic to execute, but when their esteem is so low, they need healthy, caring people around them all the more. Not that they need to be the center of attention, but at least take time for them. To ignore them is somewhat enabling the depression, especially for someone who is feeling worthless and doesn’t want to draw attention to themselves. They’re not as likely to reach out to others either.
- Telling them to get over it. It may be expressed in terms of “it’s all in your head” as if they can change their mind, or “you need to change your attitude” as if they can control it. The disease of bipolar depression is debilitating and creates a barrier to reason. You can try to persuade them by diverting their focus elsewhere, but “getting over it” just won’t happen at this depth of chronic illness.
- Acting like everything’s okay with them, when it’s not. Though everything may be going well for you, they are feeling the weight of despair. Bipolar Depression has a suffocating, estranging effect on people, and when you notice their state of mind and pretend like they’re fine, you aren’t helping. They need someone to see them for who they are. And scared as they may be to admit it, we all need to face the truth: something is wrong. But don’t point it out that it’s obvious to you either. Respect their dignity. They may not want to be noticed anyway. Keep in mind they are suffering and have a right to feel what they’re feeling.
- Talking about them in front of them. Just as it would be disrespectful in front of anyone else, this could also be a trigger.
- Enabling damaging behaviors toward them. If you find yourself in a situation with them that encourages destructive treatment of them or someone else there, find an escape. Whether that is mental, emotional or physical abuse, the last place this person should be is in a dangerous area. This includes cyber-bullying.