This article on today.com dispenses, in my opinion, some very accurate information. It talks directly about people with “low self-esteem” but, hey, that’s one of the side affects of depression so I think it applies. Here are a few snippets:
[R]esearchers found that people with low self-esteem don’t want to hear your platitudes, and would prefer friends and loved ones see them as they see themselves. “Those with low self-esteem actually reject the so-called ‘positive reframing,’ or expressions of optimism and encouragement, most of us offer to them” …
Despite good intentions designed to boost spirits, people with low self-esteem “are simply more comfortable wallowing” in their misery, she adds. “What we think is well-intentioned support is really alienating for them. They feel as if people don’t understand their issues and don’t accept their feelings. It almost demonstrates a lack of caring.”
Here, I think I must take an exception or two. First, “wallowing” is never comfortable in a depression. It is agonizing. As I said here, “it consumes our time, our energy, our mood, and threatens to literally destroy us.” Second, saying something is “comfortable” seems, to me, to imply a choice. Yet, for me there was simply no choice to make. The “wallowing” was literally all I could do.
I do, however, agree with the rest of the paragraph. “The sun will come out tomorrow” aphoristic platitudes really are alienating. And depression is already so incredibly alienating to begin with. They do show a lack of understanding and caring because, to be honest, I’m not sure tomorrow will ever get here. What these trite nothingisms fail to take into consideration is that, when I’m depressed, I have no future so there is no tomorrow so there will be no sun!
The study showed that low self-esteem individuals would actually prefer “negative” validation, or an acknowledgement that their feelings are normal, reasonable and appropriate to whatever situation has them feeling down.
Ditto for depression. Trying to cheer me up is the same as trying to fix me which is the same as saying “you’re broken and that’s not ok.” Unfortunately, that’s a common mass attitude toward a lot of things that are deemed abnormal. To be honest, if you can’t or don’t want to empathize and try to understand what I’m going through, just keep moving along. I’d much rather you flat out ignored me than tried to cheer me up with drivel.