They’re probably depressed.
This applies to people who you know who are bipolar or suffer from depression.
If your friend or family member has been missing in action for two weeks or more, or has not been returning texts, or has not been answering the phone, or has not been talking on the family’s WhatApp group or the friends’ text group, or has not attended any gathering where you would have expected to see them, then they are probably depressed.
You don’t have to do anything!
Do NOT worry!
NOTE: If you are in a relationship with them, different rules apply!
Check the page Relationship Falling Apart? Do NOT Give your Partner Space.
To find out the status, contact someone who lives with them.
But then don’t worry.
If you want to find out what might be going on, the best suggestion is to contact their spouse, partner, parents, siblings, or housemates. Or contact someone who lives with them, or lives close to them.
That conversation can go
YOU: “Is Fred depressed? I haven’t heard from him for a while and he isn’t returning my texts.”
SPOUSE: “Yup. He isn’t doing well at the moment.”
YOU: “OK. Was just checking. Anything I can do that can help out?”
SPOUSE: “Not really. We’re coping okay at the moment.”
YOU: “Well, I’m here if you need some support. Also, can you tell Fred that it’ll be good to see him next time he’s up and out.”
SPOUSE: “I will. Thanks.”
Then you don’t really worry. If your friend has not included you in their depression support plans, there isn’t much you can do. Trust that your friend will be okay, and go about your life.
When your friend is doing well enough, they’ll respond.
If you are not included in your friend’s depression support plans, it isn’t a slight on you – the people in the depression support plans are often the ones who are physically closest.
Send a text.
You can check in by sending a text like “Haven’t seen you in a bit. Drop me a line when you can” or “When you can, let’s have a coffee.”
If you are a close friend, it would be handy to keep on checking in every 2-3 weeks. You won’t get a response if we are still depressed, so for you nothing will appear to happen. However, us bipolar / depressed people can use your text as an indicator that we still have friends. That’s a welcome support for us when the depression induces in us social anxiety or fear of people or thoughts that the world is angry at us or that no one thinks we are important.
Make sure you are a close friend and not a well meaning acquaintance. If you are an acquaintance, do NOT send texts to a depressed person – you will stress us out.
If there are a group of you (a set of gym buddies, or a bridge group, or a knitting circle), one person should send a text on behalf of everyone. If everyone in the group sends texts, well, we might like that, or we might get stressed out – it’s hard to tell up front.
Texts every 2-3 weeks can go like “Haven’t seen you in a bit. Missing your company.” or “When you can, let’s have a coffee” or “Thinking of you.” Texts like these don’t have a requirement that we answer, which is good since we can’t answer. They just leave an open invitation for us, which is nice.
Do NOT text “Haven’t heard from you, are you okay?” or “Are you depressed?” These require an answer, which we can’t focus well enough to write, so they will stresses us out. And we won’t respond anyway.
And just keep on doing it until you see us somewhere, or we appear on a group text or on Facebook. We’ll be as fine as we can be.
- If you know your friend had a depression episode, here’s what to say when you next meet.
- Here’s what it feels like to be depressed: Eighteen symptoms of Depression.
- One caveat. If you friend talks about suicide, then contact friends / family and get help. I take mentions of suicide seriously.
first published 11 Jan 19
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