For all the ennui the depressed are supposedly burdened with, they always seem to find a spark to say, “It’s just not that easy!” when presented with a friendly suggestion to pick themselves up by the bootstraps so that their cycle of wallowing can continue unabated.
The first defence of the depressed is to metaphorically pull down the pants of your good intentions, revealing to the world its impotent splendour, no matter how effective it could have been in making them feel a little less shitty (or nothing at all) all the time. Irony is a cruel mistress, isn’t she? For all the griping about how hard it is to be a depressed, I have come to know that dealing with the depressed as infinitely harder than dealing with any depressive impulses of my own.
If our good intentioned suggestions on how to break a depressed wallow-cycles–like “Hey! Get some exercise! Eat better! Get a good night’s sleep! Talk to a mental health professional! Talk to me about what’s bothering you! Don’t feel so goddamn bad all the time!”–are stymied by “It’s just not that easy!” before they are given their fair shake, how on Earth are we supposed to deal with the depressed? What can we do to force the stubborn mules that are the depressed to un-dig their hooves from the dirt and move forward in improving their lives?
Some of you may not appreciate the stubborn mule metaphor for the depressed but I assure the metaphor is apt as it contains our solution. If we are to understand the depressed as stubborn mules, we unlock the secret to reaching them without getting bucked aside by “It’s just not that easy.”
When one offers a good natured suggestion to help pull a depressed out of their funk, they are engaging in the futile exercise of trying to move a mule by force. Instead, one must dangle carrots with the utmost patience, free of judgement or criticism to entice the mule (read: the depressed) to take action whilst not stripping it of its autonomy. Now, I must stress that these are not literal carrots but small gestures. Something as benign as a complimentary text message to serving them takeout you pass off as your own cuisine to provide a loving connection that will soon grow into a beacon of light that helps guide the mule out of darkness.
Stick to this while avoiding tough-love and minimizing their pain at all costs and, some day, their hooves will come un-dug. It’s just that easy, albeit a very long and slow process that requires constant attention and sensitivity. But I believe in you, just as you must believe in how far a small act of kindness can mean to someone that’s blinded by a constant, internal self-flagellation.
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