When my mom was a kid, her family went on one vacation each year, to the same old cabin on a lake in Minnesota. As much fun as she had with her family on the trips, she always had that itch to go somewhere new. So, she promised herself that when she grew up and had a family of her own, she’d take them to new places each year.
She has certainly followed through on her promise, and I’m extremely grateful for that.
I actually give my mom a lot of credit for my own wanderlust, because I think I have it in the best way. It’s not merely a yearning to travel, but reminiscence on places I’ve been, and an increasing desire for adventure.
It’s a broadening of the mind.
I don’t think I could ever choose a favorite place or a favorite trip. We’ve been to some incredible places, and (especially since the “dead vacuum in the elevator” incident in our San Diego hotel) it seems like each vacation is better than the last.
Since I’ve just returned from the most recent “Carlson-Schneider Family Vacation,” I guess I’m just feeling a bit sentimental. I’m excited to be back in my reality, but also feeling very thankful for my mom and for having the means to travel.
Love to travel? Join my Travel Team and be a guest blogger.
I’ve been dealing with depression since early adolescence. I’m not talking about bursts of sadness because your dog died or you failed a test; I’m talking about a chronic mental illness. It took a long time, but I finally started treatment about two years ago, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned things about myself, the people I surround myself with, and of course, the mental illness itself.
I’ve faced a series of highs and lows. One thing that I’ve noticed, which I’m sure is not surprising, is that the cliche “hard times reveal true friends” is sadly, true. And I get it, you know? It’s hard to be around someone you love when they’re sad and complaining. You don’t want them to be sad, and you don’t want to feel sad because you’re around them. Maintaining that bond is beyond difficult, especially if it goes unaddressed.
If you don’t know what’s going on in the world of a depressed person, being there for them can be even more difficult. Empathy for the situation is one thing, but actually understanding is another.
If you are trying to be there for a loved one who’s battling a mental illness, here’s a bit of insight and ways to help, based on my experiences.
What we want you to know
We might not always appear sad.
Many of us don’t match the stereotypes often associated with depressed people. Some of us are in denial. Some of us just don’t want people to know. Whatever the reason, we suffer silently; we fake a smile, we laugh, and do our best to go about our daily lives. We mask it, but we’re dying on the inside.
Understand that living with depression is living in a state of complete disarray.
We can’t find the “bright side” of things. We may be cognitively aware that a “bright side” of our situation may exist, but it’s not enough to make us feel better. It’s not enough for us to even see it as something that’s good.
You can always point out the positives in whatever the situation is, but don’t be hurt or surprised when your friend doesn’t exactly see it the same way.
We don’t mean to lash out.
We might not even realize what we’re doing or comprehend that know that it hurts you – but we’re sorry. It sucks, and many of us try not to do it because we love you…but sometimes, it happens. We’re just a little too sensitive. It may hurt, but as hard as it is, try not to take it seriously.
Don’t assume we just want attention.
There are few things worse than hearing that you’re just acting sad to get attention, that you’re a drama queen, or that you’re intentionally blowing your feelings out of proportion when you are suffering from depression. You may think that something is trivial, but belittling our struggles just tells us that our feelings are invalid.
We don’t want to feel this way.
And we are probably more frustrated with ourselves than you are. Unfortunately, we can’t control our emotions. With depression, comes a lot of self-loathing. Do you think we like to feel like crap all the time? No, but we can’t just turn it off.
As a friend, you should understand that you can’t control how we feel, either. While there are certainly things you can do to boost our spirits, at the end of the day, our feelings are what they are.
You might need to ask us how we cope.
You don’t need to be a therapist, or even to act like one, to help a friend cope with depression. Everyone has different ways to cope, and as long as they’re not hurting anyone, it’s important to accept that different coping mechanisms work better for different people.
I’ve learned how to tell my friends what kinds of things help me cope, but not everyone can do this. You may need to ask if they just need someone to listen, if they are looking for advice, or if they don’t want to talk about it at all. Maybe they just want a friend to be there to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s with them. To simply not be alone.
Avoid being critical of our coping mechanisms.
Really, just avoid being too critical, period.
With the exception of anything harmful or dangerous, respect that how we cope may be different than you, and may even seem a bit odd. But hey. If it helps, it helps.
You can always offer advice based on your own experiences, but avoid communicating it in a commanding way. Telling us what to do is frustrating, and it’ll be frustrating to you if we don’t take your advice.
We might isolate ourselves.
When we get very low, many of us convince ourselves (without really trying) that those who love us don’t actually care. Gently remind us that we’re wrong; You do care.
But don’t just say it. Don’t just tell them that you love them and they can call any time, prove it.
Please, be patient with us;
No matter how hard we try, we can’t manage this on our own.
It’s not always easy to be friends with us at our low points. We’re essentially battling ourselves. Even while in therapy, a support network is crucial.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to handle your specific situation, you can always call your local suicide hotline. They have a different approach to helping people with mental health that’s different than a peer, and in my opinion, somewhere between a therapist and a friend. It may also help you to get your struggles about the situation off your chest, and luckily, suicide prevention hotlines are open 24/7.
One final note:
At the end of the day, you need to accept that what you’re friend is facing isn’t their fault, and it’s not yours either. All you can do is to just be there for them. You can’t control what they do, who they see, and you definitely can’t control how they feel.
Ironically, there are no words for how amazingly beautiful this book is written. I absolutely adore F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books, but never knew much of his wife. This book is wonderful, that’s all I can say.
This is one of the best book recommendations I’ve ever been given. Not only is DVF a style inspiration but she’s also an entrepreneurial genius. Her story is truly inspiring. In my opinion, I think that any woman in business should read this, whether she is into fashion or not.
Did you really think the newest HP book wouldn’t make the list? HA. Although it’s not what we’d expect from Rowling (ie; a brilliantly written novel), it’s still brilliantly written and the plot is everything I’ve ever wanted. Don’t listen to the bad reviews; they just didn’t expect to be reading a script, or can’t appreciate the beauty of one.
Are you sensing a bit of a trend, here? This book was also a great recommendation from a friend of mine and I think is completely fascinating. Again, even if you’re not in a relationship, the studies discussed in this book are fascinating and Ansari’s humor just makes it even more interesting.
Note: If you download the audiobook, Ansari narrates and it will have you laughing out loud as you listen.
Actually, I’m a binge shopper. I’m not one to perpetually shop but when I do…I splurge.
Like when Victoria’s Secret is having a sale.
In my defense, it’s been a rough week. I haven’t had running water at my apartment since Saturday night, and I’m skeptical it will be fixed tonight. Call it what you want: You may say addiction, I say therapy. If only BCBS covered it…
I’ve also been working my butt off in the office, which is why I’ve been woefully neglectful of my blog. Sorry. Life is hard, so I bought this shirt…
Anyway…I’m sitting at this cafe near my office, trying to write a post that actually means something…but I’m so distracted. Scattered.
Needless to say, I’m about to hit ‘check out’ on a pretty full cart. Thank God for my Victoria’s Secret credit card…or maybe it’s the death of me. As long as I pay it off, right?
I don’t know if it’s my crazy schedule or the fact that I spent an obscene amount of time working on things from this list, but I’m actually at a point where not texting him – or ANYONE – is kind of a way of life now.
But it’s nice to have a whimsical list of post ideas that I can pull from when I’m stuck.
That said, if you’re going to try reorganizing your Pin boards, be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole. Lucky for me, I can consider it “working” because I’m not just reorganizing but optimizing my boards (see my actual write up on Pinterest optimization).
Regardless, the minute you decide to dig your nails into the depths of your pin boards, you’ll be lost. It’s easiest to do on your computer, so your phone will sit nearby, neglected. Time will go by faster than you could have ever imagined because you’re suddenly overwhelmed with figuring out if you want to divide your style boards up by season or wondering just how many cute animal boards is too many.
If you’re lucky, you may even come across a DIY project you forgot you’d pinned and end up actually doing it.
Her freshly manicured nails tapped quickly on her Mac keyboard. She sat, perched, bolt-upright at her desk. She always sat like that but this afternoon, she was more rigid, her shoulders tense. She was nervous as hell, but focused on her work. Her eyes pierced her computer screen, determined to finish this stupid email before…
She reluctantly tore her eyes from her computer screen, losing her focus as her gaze fell on a group of musicians who’d just walked through the door. She smiled and greeted them from her desk.
The one closest to her was a bit scrawny; the hippy-type (not hipster) with thin, shaggy, dirty blonde hair. He looked like a country version of The Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Where are You!(…yes, the 90’s cartoon). Recognizing her, he smiled and waved, the nervous confusion lifting from his kind, but otherwise goofy face.
Behind Shaggy, stood the rest of the band. A plump boy in a button down, with square glasses was holding his guitar case, and next to him a skinny girl with stringy hair held her violin case. But it was always the band’s drummer who always caught her eye.
They locked eyes and he smiled at her, maneuvering around the rest of the band to walk towards her desk as she stood up.
She could feel the heat begin to rise in the back of her neck, working towards her cheeks. She reminded herself to breathe as she grabbed her notebook and stuck her black ballpoint pen behind her ear. She rose gracefully from her seat (miraculously) and gave Shaggy and the rest of the band hugs. She introduced them to her coworkers, all sitting distracted around her before she led them to the recording studio.
She returned to her desk to work. Music and chatter omitted from the studio the rest of the afternoon. Her day was a blur; she was distracted. She blamed the noise but knew that was only a scapegoat.
She’d escaped those gorgeous, hazel eyes for quite some time but she knew, even before today, how much she’d missed him. Booking his band for a podcast wasn’t just a mutually beneficial career move. She felt like she’d needed an excuse – a real one – to talk to him again. She wanted – no, she needed – to know him better.
But the pit in her stomach all afternoon made her wish she hadn’t reached out. He got away; it happens, and she should have let it remain that way. She didn’t need to relive the heartache or feign friendship when she wanted more. She didn’t need to pretend he didn’t give her the most terrifying case of butterflies…
She worked extra hard (and got so much done) all afternoon in an attempt to distract herself. Regardless, her mind reeled, mulling over all of these things.
Then, he smiled at her, and the pit in her stomach lifted, and she was in his world. She believed in magic for that reason alone. It wasn’t a cliche spell or a potion; It was a trance. Experienced witchcraft. She should know the counter-curse…
But she didn’t.
Potions, crystals…there was nothing she could do to change the timing, and no one could fix that. Yet…she wanted to believe…by the look, the sparkle in his eyes, that she still had time. A chance. And somehow…