Mental Health Blogs

Explaining Depression To A Friend

Explaining depression to a friend can be scary and difficult. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about talking to somebody about depression. Telling family and close friends about your depression has its challenges, but telling friends and acquaintances can have its challenges too – especially when they are people you know from work.

Why would you even bother telling an acquaintance about your depression? What business is it of theirs? Good questions.

Disclosing Depression to a Friend

Recently, I saw an ex-work friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. We bumped into each other at a local second-hand clothing store. An odd place to see a work friend, we laughed at having bumped into one another and asked the typical “what are you doing here?” and “do you come here often?” questions. I asked her where she was working now and asked after her kids and her health. She told me where she was working, her kids were doing well and her health was good.

Then, she asked me… “So, how have you been?”

After quickly weighing the options, I decided to perform an experiment in honesty.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles,

I had never come out and just talked about my depression casually, as though it were the flu or a broken bone. Why not? Well, it’s obvious to anybody who suffers mental illness – you just don’t. In the name of ending the stigma (self-stigma in particular), I decided to just say it out loud.

“Well, I just got over a bit of a bad time. You see, I suffer from depression.”

She furrowed her bow, tilted her head and said, “Oh my, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I responded, then just kept talking, deciding that I would be doing a disservice to my friend if I left it up to her to fill the inevitable silence that would have followed that “I’m sorry”.

I told her about how I suffer from chronic depression and how about six times a year, it rears its ugly head and I get very sad and fatigued and I have no energy… my motivation sucks and I can’t concentrate and I’m generally distant. Several times during my short diatribe, she furrowed her brow again and tilted her head and apologized. I did wonder what she was thinking while I talked but to her credit, I never felt judged or like less of a person.

The experiment was successful… this time.

Telling A Friend I Have Depression Gets Easier With Time

Each time I say the words out loud – “I have depression” – it’s a little easier. It helps (I hope) to educate the people I tell. Mostly, it helps diffuse my own self-stigma and makes me stronger.

Note: You might also want to read: I Told My Boss About My Depression

This entry was posted in Coping With Depression, Depression Support, Depression Treatments, Living with Depression and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Explaining Depression To A Friend

  1. Lori says:

    Thanks! I will try this also…..thanks for the inspiration. MDD does not define me, but, it IS me. Thankfully my hubby kind of understands…he just keeps his distance til I feel better. Yes, and it makes me feel better and stronger to finally tell yet another friend… (Hugs)

  2. sash a blore says:

    Hi, I told my beSt friend that I had depression when we started to get close and warned her that it would be tough. She now doesn’t want to be my friend anymore because my depression has gotten worse. I know that some people can’t take it buto it just made me a LOT worse as I viewed her as a sister. I am now alone at school (I’m 14) and whenever I see her I just burSt into tears as it taps a lot into my past .

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