What to say to someone who is depressed

I like to think of myself as a strong, confident, hardworking, independent woman. But when I'm having an anxiety attack, I am someone completely different.

Some people have an invisible "angel" and "devil" on their shoulders. But, for me, I swear I have a little bully on my shoulder who will randomly show up and start insulting me.

"You're crazy. No one will ever love you. You're not special. You're ugly. If you ask someone for help, they'll be annoyed by you. You're going to fail. You're going to get fired from your job. Your friends and boyfriend (if I'm dating someone at the time) are going to get sick of you and leave. You're going to end up alone."

These are just some of the thoughts that go through my head when I'm having an anxiety attack.

There are some people I have confided in while having a panic attack who, as a result, left me -- calling me "needy" or "exhausting," saying I was just fishing for compliments or saying that they couldn't "handle me" (like I was a job or something). I've been told, "Stop acting crazy" or "Just calm down" or "What do you want me to do? I can't fix your problems" or "You have nothing to be upset about."

But when someone is going through an anxiety attack (like me), depression or any other kind of mental illness, they don't expect you to "fix it" for them. All they really want is for you to be there for them. They want to know that, no matter what, you still care about them. Because it's not a weakness and it's no fault of theirs that they feel this way. It's a chemical imbalance that causes their brains to spew lies at them.

So what should you say if someone you care about who is experiencing depression or any other kind of emotional disorder?

Here are some ideas:

And sometimes you don't have to say anything. Sometimes just being there, holding them and giving a Kleenex (and maybe some ice cream) while they cry is more than enough.

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