I just said something that came off as shallow, even though there was a lot of truth in it.
A friend who is struggling with depression was sharing with me, and I found myself trying to be encouraging– but maybe that isn’t what she needed. Maybe, at that moment, she just needed to be heard. Truth is that some days in depression I NEED encouragement. Other days I just need to be heard, get out my thoughts and feelings, so I can find my own way to move on. I had / have no idea where my friend was on this spectrum. I remember not knowing what I needed when in the grips of depression, but when I got the wrong responses I noticed it by the disappointment I felt at not being understood. Depression is such a strong foe. Trite answers will not do.
More and more I read how people are fed up with the “7 ways to this” and “10 ways to do that”. Who are these people who are dissecting life down to such “simple” terms to follow? I specifically love the YouTube commercial where the lady who was totally broke and working a dead-end job went to a seminar that changed her life and taught her to be a coach. Now she is helping others. HUH?!!! There is some truth to the thought that it is easier to help others than ourselves because we are not emotionally engaged in the situation, therefore we can see clearer. But it made me ask what others ask: “If this person couldn’t pull her life together—what makes her qualified to help me other than a seminar and a certificate?”
In 12 step groups people are encouraged to share their experience, strength and hope. Some people cross the line as sponsors and start trying to tell people how to live their lives. This is crazy. Who has the right to tell someone what they can and cannot do? Especially someone who made such a tragic destruction of their own life. Suggestions yes; sharing life experience yes; encouraging yes; telling someone else how to get through a life situation- no. Even therapists do not do that.
While I did not tell my friend what she should do, I implied how she should take her mood. Who am I to tell someone that? I think it’s time to pick up the phone and make an apology.
Until next time~