I Can’t Reach Out, I’m Depressed

February 12, 2013 Natasha Tracy

When we're depressed it's often easier to be alone in our pain, but reaching out is important and if we are to beat back the bipolar, we must reach out.

I hear from people over and over again how they can’t reach out to others because they are too sick. Normally this is because the person is too depressed, but it could be because the person is too anxious or in some other mood state. And I know for myself that asking for help can be the scariest thing in the world, but if we ever hope to turn the tide, if we ever hope to beat back bipolar, we need to be able to reach outside ourselves for help and support.

What is Reaching Out?

Reaching out can be anything. It can be picking up the phone to talk to a friend or family member. It can be talking to a faith leader. It can be seeing a doctor. It can be calling a helpline. All that matters when reaching out is that you make a connection with another human being who can help in some way. The person doesn’t have to be a professional. Maybe they can listen. Maybe they can tell you they love you. Those are gifts. Those are part of reaching out.

Why Not Reach Out?

So if people around us can give us gifts when we reach out to them, why don’t we do it?

Because the bipolar tells us not to.

It’s difficult, if you’re not bipolar, to understand this, but the disease talks to you. It talks in a voice that only you can hear. It speaks in a low, rumbling voice that confirms fears and provokes anxiety. It utters sentiments about not being worthy and about being deserving of pain. It tells you everything you need to be afraid of reaching out to other people.

And on top of that, many people are taught, societally, to live alone with their pain. For example, men are supposed to “be strong” and “not express emotion.” But I have news for you: reaching out to others is one of the strongest things you can do. It means that you standing up to unspeakable forces and looking fear and stigma in the eye. Only the strong can do that.

But I Can’t Reach Out, I’m Depressed!

I know. It feels impossible. It feels impossible to pick up the phone or write an email. I know. It seems like uttering the words of pain to another is more than you could possibly bear. I know.

But you need to reach out, and what’s more, you want to. How do I know that? Because you’re reading this, of course. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t see the value in reaching out to others.

And no matter how weak you feel, no matter how beaten or how bruised, I promise you, you are more powerful than you can possibly imagine. You’re living with the impossible every day. Do you know what kind of back it takes to bear that? It takes the back of Hercules. And you have that. You’re exercising it right now. Proving it by reading this. And believe me, a person that powerful can reach out to someone else. Slowly, carefully, maybe quietly, but it can be done.

Good and Bad Ways to Reach Out

But you might want to keep in mind that while reaching out to anyone is good, there are some ways that are better than others.

Good ways to reach out:

Not so good ways to reach out:

  • Facebook, Twitter, etc. posts
  • Comments on blogs
  • Anywhere where one-sided communication is involved

While any type of outreach is better than none at all, those second set of ways just won’t get you the help and support you need. I know you might think that they will, but they won’t. You need real people with real skills and real caring to connect with. Calling out into the ether just isn’t the same and I fear it turns people off when they don’t get the responses they need or deserve.

Reach Out – Now

And please consider this. If you do not tell anyone what you are going through, then they cannot possibly help. Things cannot get better if you don’t acknowledge what is wrong. People are there. Helplines are there. Professionals are there. But none of that matters if you don’t reach out and engage them. So take a moment, acknowledge your strength and you pain and then pick up the phone. You can do this. I know you can. I know it can get better.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Tags: reach out

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, February 12). I Can’t Reach Out, I’m Depressed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

April, 15 2018 at 7:47 pm

Hi Natasha, Thank you for your positive and encouraging words.

March, 6 2018 at 9:53 am

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for spending all the time you do making the articals for the people that do read them and get curious.

October, 2 2016 at 1:36 pm

This is how I feel today. Lonely and sad. And then I started telling myself I was lonely because no one in the world cared or wanted to see me this weekend. That's not even true. I got invited to several things this weekend. Instead I stayed on my couch for 2 days in self pity and loathing. I'm still not telling anyone. Everyone gets too worried.

July, 30 2016 at 9:43 am

I reach out to family but no one responds at all and my self hate gets worse.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
August, 1 2016 at 4:23 am

Hi Susan, I always tell people to keep reaching out until someone helps. Sometimes those people aren't family.
- Natasha Tracy

April, 4 2016 at 11:42 am

I agree that reaching out is essential and more successful channels are needed. Thanks for doing this blog and making information and connection possible. I live in the UK and I have been to my doctor and other health professionals desperately in need of help after 25 years of recurrent suicidal depression (I'm only 33 but this is no life) and despite repeated attempts, I still haven't received anything more than the same mood diagnosis form over and over again. If you are in the UK reading this, I would say try to get private help while you are waiting for the NHS to hear you.

October, 21 2015 at 4:07 pm

I have tried all my life to find friends who were kind, warm and safe. I never been able to find that. I have no idea why. My family is now grown and I just fought serious late stage cancer. My husband may be cheating on me with other men. I can't be sure. My birth family abused me and they still aren't kind but have tried since I almost died. I'm only 50. What happened to my life? I feel as if my world had fell apart.

June, 18 2014 at 7:29 am

Hi there, I have a combination of chronic pain from spinal issues as well as borderline personality with the crippling anxiety and depression and as such I'm unwell enough to be classed as disabled and long term sick but not enough for anybody to really help me. The National Health Service has told me they've done what they're supposed to and that I don't qualify as crazy enough to warrant more support. I struggle to talk about the things that hurt me because it hurts me to even think about them. Someone begged me to call a helpline and I left that call feeling worse than when I started. When the crisis team were looking after me it was on my records for them to not ask probing questions because I'd fall to pieces. I act super positive around people and last week had a chronic pain group education day where I feel I made a tit of myself and felt it confirmed when the others avoided me.
So that leaves me to people I trust. There aren't many of those, I've always wanted to help others and it seemed to make me give off some aura that I'm a doormat and have people take advantage of that and then ditch me when they have what they want. Some people do want to help, but they've got their own lives and if I can't predict when I'm going to take a downward turn then I can't see how they can clear a schedule themselves. I hate myself for how whiny and negative I sound and so it just makes me feel worse again! Past 6 weeks in a row I've asked everybody I know in the area several times to just meet up with me, for lunch, a drink, don't care. I'm alone, I hurt physically and mentally and nobody wants to help me and there's only so much I can do by myself.
I'm not reaching out on here as I know it's pointless, for a start I'm in the UK. I don't read blogs and I refuse to post negative stuff on my Facebook etc. I've even learnt to get some of a thick skin from where the people I've tried to help have turned on me and so I have to keep my distance. I made a hell of an effort to try and make new real life friends but I don't have a fun life to share with people and when I tell people I'm disabled they don't believe me, or forget and want to do something I'm physically incapable of. Thought I'd made a friend a couple of months ago but in less than a week he told me to stop being frigid, that he knew I wanted to sleep with him. I can't have sex so I find that hard to believe. He wanted nothing more to do with me, and yeah it's all well and good to say I deserve better or that he was just a prick, but I'm losing my faith in humanity and probably would've lost it entirely by now if it wasn't for the one amazing friend I made online who was everything I want to be, that I went to see every weekend even though it killed my back, until she passed away 6 years ago. I'm 25 years old and shouldn't have this cynicism, but I assure you that every shred of it is justifiable for the crap that the people that I've asked for help have screwed me over when I have done all I can to be there for the people who need it.

April, 14 2014 at 5:44 am

I know the feeling . Not being able to reach out or trist anybody when you REALLY need it. Im working on it. Have ben diagnosed with longlasting depression for eight years now. Been on medication. New psychiatrist suggests bipolar something. It worries me. Trying to figure out what this means I came across this page. Some of the posts here makes sense to me.

June, 7 2013 at 7:25 am

I don't think commenting on what you are reading (a blog) is inappropriate - unless you are asking for direct help from the ether. If I was truly not well, I wouldn't be reading. Anyway, majority of folks aren't really equipped to deal with a crisis - and that's the good ones. There are some truly vile people out there who have mental issues of their own that you gave to watch out for. I think we have all come across them. The really nasty people who spread nasty rumors and misinformation for personal gain. The sociopathic types. You may think you are unwell, you may feel empty, but remember, this is a passing thing for you. For sociopaths - they are living embodiment of emptiness and soulessness. No matter how bad things get, I would never want to be THAT.

May, 11 2013 at 12:16 pm

I tried to reach out to a friend, but he will not respond. He continues to mask. He could not mask with me because I have a relative who is bipolar. I do not think that he is on medication, and he was not aware that his symptoms would come out when we would have a conversation.

March, 8 2013 at 12:29 am

When I try reaching out, I tend to get a lot of reply's being similar to "happiness is a choice, move on". How should I respond to that?

February, 23 2013 at 9:33 am

I still fight with reaching out sometimes. In the past, I have found myself saying inwardly "I am not that depressed yet, I don't need to call anyone unless I get worse." The problem is, once it gets worse it gets much harder to summon the strength to call someone.
I had a bad experience with my first two "professional" care workers, so I understand feeling belittled or dismissed by a "professional", but I swear to you that is the minority in the mental health profession. Do NOT let the idea that you MIGHT encounter this behavior stop you from reaching out when in need. My first time seeing someone led to a few head nods and a prescription for Zoloft in less than 20 minutes. The second was one of those trying to prove everyone was lying to get out of work.
I have had many different case managers/therapist/nurses or whatnot,since and but for those first two, all have been people who act from a true desire to help others in need recover from or manage their lives and health.
If I hadn't stop resisting help after those first two encounters, I would more than likely not be typing this. And that is not being melodramatic.
It won't be instant, and it may force some showdowns with pretty tough thoughts about life and your own view of yourself, but you can only improve your life by participating.
I cannot advocate confiding in a family member or friend, because a lot of us have/had or will have more slightly mental/uncaring or derisive folks in our gene pool. I hope that you have someone you care for who you can open up to, but if not keep searching.
If you feel burned by relatives or peers, call an anonymous help line and talk to someone. Find a .org prevention or help chat room. Sometimes just having an ear can make a huge difference, even in the moment.
I'm sorry for the loooong arsed reply, but I am coming out of a slight haze of indifference that has clung to me for the last several months, and this was one of the first blogs I came across, and there was such a negative reaction to reaching out that I had to say my peace.
The gist is this. If you think you are bipolar, or are suffering from any other mental illness, get help. In my case, it was THE single greatest factor in my continuing effort to live and find moments of joy and clarity in this life. My sincerest wishes for relief and the recovery of contentment to us all.

February, 19 2013 at 10:56 am

I had a very bad experience ALMOST reaching out to another couple too. I am 45 and a my wife and I have other couples over for dinner and conversations. We had a couple over and it was shortly after the elementary school shooting. The other couple suggested that they should publish a list of the names and addresses of people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar just like they do with sex offenders. That way everyone would know who they are and where they live since they obviously will become a menace to society in the near future. Since this couple socializes with many of the same couples we do. I am very hesitant to reach out to people in my social group.
I do agree with Natasha that I should learn to reach out. However, I have not out of fear after this conversation. Maybe if I can find a local support group to attend I may find a way to reach out. The only problem is that I live in a pretty small city and it seems like everyone knows each other's business and gossip is main topic of conversations.

February, 17 2013 at 8:17 am

My lover goes into these deep depressions. He tells me to go away, he doesnt want to see me, he wants a break, he cant cope, he feels worthless. I try so hard to help, but I cannot reach him, he doesnt want to know. I tell him I love him so very much, but he is old and unemotional. He still rings me every day, but is very cold. I feel so ill and upset when this happens, but he wont let me in. It has been a month this time, and I feel as though I have aged 10 years. He has come back again and is loving again, but every time it happends, I feel as though part of me has died. I love him so much, but I am at a loss to know what else I can do. It is an ongoing situation. Canyone help, I would be most grateful. Patricia

February, 13 2013 at 12:54 pm

Today, I texted 3 friends and ended up going out shopping with one and for coffee with another. I feel so much better. Such good advice!
It is so easy to isolate myself but a lot more fun to be with friends.
It wasn't easy to get off the couch, no regrets!
Do it!

Aimee Newsom
February, 13 2013 at 11:34 am

I have been boxed in my entire life. Labeled since the age of eleven, followed by an unbelebable series of tragedies to most, my family has been become the ultimate bearers of denial. I am not only told by actions but words and isolating behavior that I am untrustworthy, and irrevacobly damaged. No one will speak to me. I've commited no crime, no sin against them. I've given up hope more times than I can count. Only to wake up each morning and know there must be a bit left in me- because of all of us who suffer depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, the barbs and rejection of those who can't begin to contemplate what we go through; we're still here. It's amazing and a horror all at once- not to be dramtic but to tell the truth. Reaching out for so many is a futile thing. Something we've found the strength to do ( for me many times) and bared the brunt of rolling eyes, false diagnosis, humoring and sometimes being treated as nothing more than a number. What do you do when those closet to you seek to use you, to boost their own status, use you as an excuse for all. Claiming to care for you as if you were physically and completely handicapped. The people you should be able to trust most firng gossip and lies in your communtity/ "Given up to God", "retarded" sums it all up. My question- what is there when this has been your experience? How do you trust? Where do you look for help when this is what you've lived?

February, 13 2013 at 11:15 am

Not only is reaching out via FB one-sided, but it can be very harmful. More than once I've made the mistake of using FB when I was afraid to make a phone call, only to be shattered by hurtful comments made by people who had no idea what I was going through.
I'm not good at reaching out, but finding a real person is so much better than going it alone!

February, 13 2013 at 8:36 am

George, I completely agree with you. One time, I made the error of reaching out during a crisis to some folks who had their own family troubles with bipolar, and in fact I had provided emotional support previously. The wife talked to my husband and repeatedly told him that I was likely to murder him by stabbing him while he slept! Where did THAT come from?! I have never harmed anyone, and I was well into my 40's. I have avoided the couple ever since, although the husband bears only a little blame and is my husband's best friend. I think disclosing bipolar is too risky and I'm sorry I did it.

George Ison
February, 13 2013 at 6:39 am

I agree reaching out is important. But I feel it's necessary to acknowledge that it's a double edged sword. Few things are worse than making the effort to reach out to people you love and get "advice" that implies that you're being weak. Sometimes this can even come from professionals. Stuff like "you're being dramatic", "Yeah, most people feel like that", "I know what you mean" (when clearly you're dealing with a person that hasn't experienced severe depression) and so many more.
When I am deeply depressed, and get one of those responses, I usually feel way worse and truly alone in my feelings. So my advice is to reach out, but only to someone that you're absolutely sure that will understand. Otherwise just hang on tight.

February, 12 2013 at 2:00 pm

I cried all day every day, went to bed crying, woke up crying, for two and a half years. It wasn't until I made an attempt to end my life that alarm bells rang and I was whisked away to proper care. Please don't let this happen to you, because if I reached out sooner I would not have had to go through what I did for such a long time.

February, 12 2013 at 1:05 pm

LOL, here I am, doing some not so good reaching out by commenting on a blog!!!
I am an introvert and don't know what level of contact is best for me. I'm not sure if I am just guarding my limited energy by spending more time alone when severely depressed. I have plenty of support, so idk why I comment on blogs ;-)

Charles Mistretta
February, 12 2013 at 12:04 pm

I can't agree with you more. One sided communication is safe but sorry and doesn't accomplish much for long. Those people who receive these indirect cries for help aren't always the best qualified, or they really can't care about what you are experiencing because they don't know you well enough. (Not everyone can be empathetic on a moments notice.) Tossing your cares to the wind is admittedly a fragile cure. Especially when your loved ones are as burned out on your condition as you are.

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