By Jenny Jones of Life’s a Polyp
I was going through another bout of depression. Not anything particularly new for me. I’ve battled depression since childhood when my chronic illness started. I’ve completed years of psychotherapy and resume counseling when needed.
Although the triggers of my depression vary, it usually surrounds my health and now my divorce. And occasionally I go through bouts of feeling that life is pointless and I’m simply waiting for death. These bouts can easily become a struggle for me and I frequently reach out to friends when I’m starting to feel the pull of depression again. That is, until I’m shut down for reaching out.
It takes courage to reach out to someone when we are at our most vulnerable point; when we are emotionally raw and desperate for some semblance of peace or happiness. It’s not easy opening up to others about depression, especially when depression cycles periodically. We often feel like a burden to those around us and tend to struggle with our emotions on our own until we reach a breaking point where we feel we must talk to someone – for our own sanity and safety. Therefore, when we reach out it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
So when we finally muster up the courage to reach out for a listening ear, it can be devastating when we are met with responses telling us to stop talking about what we are feeling and experiencing simply because the person doesn’t want to listen or is uncomfortable with what we are sharing.
I was met with such words the last time I reached out to a friend. I poured my heart-broken, dark feelings out to my friend. I shared my darkest secrets of how I longed for my pain, my life to end. His only response was to scold me, to tell me to stop talking about my longing for death.
I can only presume that my depressive feelings were causing my friend to feel uncomfortable, but as I read his words telling me to stop talking about what I was feeling, I was instantly shut down. No longer did I feel safe turning to this person who wouldn’t let me openly talk about my depression. No longer did I see a friend who cared for me, but rather someone who wouldn’t listen to my words, my pain, my cry for help. I felt betrayed. I thought this person was safe and would be there for me in our friendship. I was wrong and it stung my hurting heart.
When this happens, not everyone will reach out to another person. One rejection for help is destructive to the psyche and the remaining emotional reserves that we cling to in our times of need. For someone whose depression has resulted in suicidal ideation, there often is not a second cry for help. A suicidal person uses the small remnants of hope and what is remaining of their emotional strength to ask for help, and when that help is rejected, there is no more hope for help or recovery. When we lose hope, we lose ourselves.
The experienced betrayal of my friend shutting down my pleas for help left me feeling numb and alone. I was drained of energy. I had spent my last remaining amount of energy to reach out to this friend, only to be shut down. I didn’t turn to another that night. Instead, I burrowed myself deeper in my despair. And I vowed to never turn to this person again for help. Our friendship was tainted by this betrayal of trust.
It is difficult to look past a trusted person’s dismissal and betrayal of our cries for help, but for our own well-being, we must look past another’s behavior and try again. There is always someone who is willing to listen, whether it be someone we personally know or someone available through online support groups or phone hotlines. We must remember this and hold strong to this knowledge.
If you happen to be privileged with the trust of a hurting person, please be mindful of what this person is experiencing. This person is simply asking for your support and understanding. Sometimes a hurting person doesn’t need advice or even words, just simple acknowledgment of their pain. And if you’re worried about a hurting person’s safety, kindly express your concerns and direct them to professional help, whether it is counseling, hotlines, or even 911 in the case of an emergency.
A version of this post was originally published on Life’s a Polyp.
About the Author
Jenny was diagnosed with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis at age 8 and after 6 years with an ileostomy now has a Straight Pull Thru. She has a Masters degree in Social Work and shares on her personal blog lifesapolyp.blogspot.com.