How to Tell I Have Depression: A Few Tips Based on My Experience

By Staff Writers


This is a personal essay written by Reem AlHamdan. Reem is a Saudi woman with the passion to explore the world. She shares her adventures in the blog Life of Ree. Ree has agreed to publish this deeply personal essay on depression with the hope that her story will help others cope with anxiety and low spirits. 

Telling your friends you have depression can be difficult. It’s hard to open up when you feel like doing so would make you weak or misunderstood. Unfortunately, depression has been increasing and so as its consequences thanks to social media, covid, and turbulent economic times.

According to the World Health Organization, “Depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 3.8% of the population affected, including 5.0% among adults and 5.7% among adults older than 60 years” That means 280 Million people suffer from depression. And according to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders in the US, “suicide is one of the leading causes of death in adolescents and adults ages 15 to 24” due to depression. This is why it’s important more than ever to open up to your loved ones and friends as this eases the path to recovery.

But Why Should You Open Up You May Ask

There are lots of feelings you may feel, like shame, guilt or simply you may feel like no one might understand. But that’s not true. You’d be surprised at how much compassion and support you might receive from your friends which is a confirmation of how much you’re cared for and loved.

Depending on where you’re from the severity of the “stigma” varies. In the middle east, for example, you’d get judged by uneducated people claiming you’re crazy or people claiming that it’s due to a “rocky relationship with God” which is not the case. That is why it matters to whom you should open up. We will walk through the steps, the type of people you should open up to, and the journey in general. I know it’s hard and this is not a solution to your depression but a way that eases the pain and eliminates the illusion that you’re completely alone in this journey

Who Should You Open Up to

How many people you choose to open up to is up to you. There’s no right or wrong number. But you should know that picking the right people matters. As a matter of fact, not everyone would be understanding or let’s say educated about the matter and it can hurt if it’s your family or someone that’s really close to you. You know more than anyone how well the other person would be receptive.

Unfortunately for me, I told some family members about my depression and they used it against me. I made the mistake of telling them even though I knew they never really were interested in my well-being. So, you need to pick the right people. It’s ok if they’re uneducated about depression but it really depends if they’re truly there for you in general and if you can rely on them.

Knowing what I know now I summarized the below points to evaluate whether they’re the right person to tell or not:

  • you can be yourself around them
  • they’ve been there for you and you know they’ll be there for you when you need them
  • you feel supported by them

It’s ok if you only end up telling one person because it’s all about opening up to the right one who will support you on your journey.

How Should You Open Up

After picking the right person/s to open up to. Then comes the hardest part which is actually opening up and telling the people you care about how you truly feel. It’s hard to hear as well from their perspective that a person they love and care about is hurting a lot and I know you might be thinking about them more than yourself, so you might be feeling shame or guilt to even tell them. But don’t be discouraged as this is the right path to recovery and feeling better and supported. And if the situation is reversed you’d want to be there for them as well. So here’s what I recommend you should keep in mind when telling them.

Pick The Right Time:

It’s important for you to pick the right time when you feel like you could have this tough conversation. And that time should be suitable for the other person as well. You don’t want to talk to them when you’re not feeling that well that day. And if that’s the case I suggest doing an activity that boosts your mood like going to an arcade or doing anything fun. Then telling them afterward over coffee or dinner.

Prepare What You Want to Say

Being prepared helps in saying the key things you want to mention, especially if there are some things you don’t want to mention to the other person and that’s ok. I suggest you practice what to say beforehand so you’d know exactly what to share and what not to share. And this helps in communicating your feelings more effectively and in a clear manner as some people might not be familiar with depression.

Be Prepared For Their Reactions

Even though we went through the criteria process mentioned above. Still be prepared for some reactions you might get. Typically they might try to fix you or question your diagnosis as a first reaction and that’s fine if they’re uneducated at first and if their intention is well. Try to prepare for cases like that.

You might be surprised if it turned out they understand exactly how you feel, could be from their own experience or someone close to them. People tend to share more when you start to open up first, so this could be a thing that strengthens your relationship even further.

Further Steps & Takeaways

Opening up is a hard process. Especially when depression makes us feel lonely and isolated and gives the false impression that we’re beyond repair and understanding. Please know like me and many others who have been through it that it’s not true and opening up is the beginning of a healthy recovery.

Suppose by the end of this article, you still feel like there’s no one in your close circle you could share your feelings with. In that case, I suggest joining online support groups where there are a lot of people who know exactly how you feel and are providing you with support, hope and lots of beneficial resources. And of course, you should reach out to a therapist regardless if you open up to your friends or not. The path to recovery is lots of work but remember you are worth that work.

About the Author

TakeCareStudy is committed to delivering valuable mental health content. We are covering all topics that have to do with students wellbeing, academic success and relationship matters.

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