Everybody who gets depressed or manic needs a safe space. This is critical. Particularly for depressed people.
For me, a safe space is a place where I won’t be disturbed by anybody. Currently, this is my house, but it can be (a) a bedroom or study, (b) a basement family room, (c) a coffeeshop or restaurant, (d) the zoo, or (e) even a mall.
When I say not disturbed, I mean I don’t want anyone asking me why I’m not going to work, or encouraging me to go for a walk, or quarrelling because I’m acting like an idiot. I don’t want well meaning people asking if I’m feeling well or asking what they can do to help me.
I don’t want to talk with you and I don’t want you talking with me. There. That’s a pretty good definition of a safe space. No, actually there’s more. I don’t want you wandering around nearby where your very presence feels like a complaint or reproach of sorts.
Right. So I’m behaving like an idiot. So if you are my parent or partner or sibling or friend, why should you let me get away with this?
Because, and this is important, if I am depressed, I can be so terrified of dealing with people that your mere presence hurts, like if you are threatening to kill me, and your talking to me can feel as if you have punched me in the stomach. And yes, it can be that bad.
Since I’m scared of people, I will try to flee from them. The first place I might hide is in my bedroom or the bathroom, but if you persist in checking me out there, and if you hound me while I am sitting in the living room watching television (Spongebob at 8:30 am on a Thursday morning), I will leave the house.
And therein lies the problem. If I leave the house and I wander aimlessly, anything can happen. I am looking for quiet places empty of people. Unfortunately quiet places empty of people are not necessarily safe, so I am placing myself at a fairly high risk for being mugged or attacked. Furthermore, if I am wandering around or driving around, you won’t know where I am and you’ll be worried if I don’t come home until late at night.
Less obviously, depression often tends to bring on suicidal thoughts. Leaving me to wander anywhere I feel like and to do whatever I want to, leaves me wide open to take action if my thinking takes me down the path of suicide. This scares me.
It’s far better to have a safe place. I’ll be less likely to get into trouble, and you’ll at least know more or less where I am.