Just got out of a depression episode. It lasted about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks, which is long enough for all the my activities to unravel substantially (or completely). Since I had gotten back from a vacation just a week before, it also screwed up reconnecting with my friends and family. So my activities and my networking are a pretty mess at the moment.
However, this has happened so often over the years that I don’t worry much. I just find it annoying, and I try to pick up whatever pieces I can and move on. My friends and family have gotten used to this and take it all in stride.
But every now and then I meet new people and I get the “I haven’t seen you for a while” comment. These days I’m frequently honest about my mood swings and I say
“I just had a depression episode that lasted 3 weeks. I don’t communicate with people when I’m depressed”
I’d like to note that the following is NOT a good response to me
“You know that if you need me [when you are depressed], all you have to do is call….I am here for you!”
I know you are there for me and I trust you, but when I’m depressed, I can’t call you, because, you know, I’m depressed and can’t reach out to people. I know you’re willing to support me, but I can’t actually pick up the phone to call you.
You are asking me to do something that’s impossible, and although your comment is well meaning, it’s also annoying.
Here are better responses for someone coming out of a depression episode:
“Depression is a bitch, isn’t it.”
I’m good with some sympathy from you. And having a depression episode really is a bitch.
“Good to see you back.”
A non-judgmental comment and maybe even a hug make me feel welcome. I don’t feel as if I’ve dropped off your charts or your interest.
“Is there anything that I can do NOW to make you life a bit easier?”
There is SO much that I need to catch up on! Maybe I won’t take you up on you offer, but I really appreciate you asking if you can help me out now that I’m no longer depressed.
And after the first two questions, don’t ask about the depression any more. Just continue what you were doing before I showed up and include me in it. I’ll fall in line with what you are doing. Being able to do what you do, being normal like everyone else, is the best help I can get.