During my time at Berkeley, my classes overlapped almost exclusively with a particular group of English majors (or Cal students who simply enjoyed taking English classes). I’m not sure how I managed to Facebook-friend the rest of you, but it happened, and I couldn’t be happier that it did.
In recent months, I’ve actually developed this strange sort of pride when I consider the names that appear most commonly in my newsfeed. The whole lot of you like, share, and discuss incredibly relevant, important articles.
Most people go on Facebook to socialize; I actively go on Facebook to catch up on the news and keep informed because I can trust that my online community will always care about what’s going on in the world that day.
Yesterday morning, one of these aforementioned friends liked this article from the Huffington Post about high-functioning depression.
The more I read, the more upset I became. I know so many Berkeley students and alumni who exhibit these symptoms, and I know almost just as many who aren’t reaching out for help.
An individual who is suffering from a “high-functioning depression” appears to have everything put together on the outside, but are actually struggling to feel this way internally. These individuals, like any other person who has depression, need help. However, because they seemingly appear to be high-functioning, they actively choose not to seek help.
Depression is, admittedly, a difficult topic for me to discuss. On one hand, I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge about it to offer insightful commentary without turning to generalizations. On the other hand, it’s a subject that hits incredibly close to home.
I am very close with people who were/are depressed, and I have talked to them, not necessarily about their unique experiences, but about how I could offer them support. At the end of each one of these conversations, I somehow always felt like I could never do enough.
Another person I know, to whom I’m not as close, once wrote about “how to be there for a depressed friend” on her blog. I’m unsure if she wants her identity to be made known, so I’m going to anonymously cite from her post:
“Make sure to check in on your friend frequently just to see how they’re doing, remind them that you love them and are there to listen…presence is so valuable when you’re depressed and it can mean the world to someone. If you’re unable to be there in person, make gestures to show you’re thinking of them – send a thoughtful text, maybe a care package of their favorite things.
It’s okay to not know exactly what to say – you can even make that clear to your friend and sometimes you don’t need to say a word – just make sure they know that you’ll be by their side through the difficult times.”
What I’ve begun speculating though, is that I have trouble coming to terms with the help I can offer my friends because when the same thing offered to me, it isn’t always enough.