Me to a few friends recently:
“I am going through XXX, I feel miserable because ABC… I do not know why people enjoy this process. I do not. I am very unhappy….”
My friends’ responses:
“Do not feel like that, it is a blessing what you are experiencing, many people would love to be in your position….”
“This change is a miracle, be grateful for the time and opportunity you have….”
“Think more positive, try to enjoy yourself through XXX…. Do not think like that…”
My initial responses and emotions:
- cringe in anger for they did not understand where I was coming from
- shame for I felt reprimanded for my emotions and physical ailments, which were very real for me
- urge to write back in rage to yell at them for not trying to understand me
- impulse to respond with something hateful such as “wait till you are going through XXX!”
- upset they could not be more sympathetic, let alone be empathetic with my situation
- self-righteous and formulated a preachy response to tell them how they could be more open minded and see things from my perspective
What I did in reality:
Two days later, as I woke up with the bright blue skies gleaming through my bedroom curtains, a few truths dawned on me:
- How could I expect my friends to know what XXX and ABC feels like if they had not gone through it themselves? So, why hate on them? Their inexperience is not their fault.
- I thought they were reprimanding me, but were they? Emails make deciphering attitude difficult. Their tone through the written words were my own interpretation, and perhaps not their original intentions at all.
- Was I being too sensitive at their responses? Too judgmental? Too critical? Too self-centered?
If I found them unempathetic, how empathetic was I to them?
I cannot change how my friends respond, but I can change how I respond to them.
Likewise, when you, my reader friend, tell your family and friends about your depression and inner struggles, try not to judge them for their responses that send you further down your rabbit hole. Remember, they do not know.
Maybe it is up to us to let them know. Someone has got to take the first step.
As for me, I am still going through XXX, but I feel less ABC. I have accepted the situation, but that does not mean I am over the moon about it. It is part of life. Some would welcome XXX with bells and red carpet, I am not that sort of person – and that is fine, whether others understand or not….