I've never been depressed before. I've never come close to being depressed before. I can't even stay angry at people for more than about 2 hours, much less in a bad mood for any length of time. I've read Dooce for years, though, and thanks to her honest writing about the subject, I feel like I understand more than I used to how depression works. How it must feel, and how helpless people are when tortured by a disease that they don't want, don't understand, and can't adequately treat. I thought I had compassion and understanding and a better grasp of how to react if ever faced with it.
My best friend is depressed, and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know what to do for her, and I don't know what to do for me.
She's actively being treated. She's on medication, and in therapy. It's not doing a lot of good. I found out after the fact that she had had suicidal thoughts for weeks - had an entire plan worked out, in fact, and was days away from going through with it - before she mentioned it to her therapist, who changed her medication instantly. I wouldn't have known if she hadn't told me about it later. If her therapist hadn't asked the right questions, I wouldn't have known until she was dead. How can that be? I should have known.
When I'm around her, she seems fine. When she's not fine, she won't see me. I try to press the issue and force her to keep her plans with me, force her to let me come over and watch bad tv with her. Should I just show up? When she doesn't want me there? I thought it would at least be helpful if someone else was there, to draw her out, make her not sit around thinking awful thoughts by herself.
I want her to know I'm here for her.
But then I wonder.. am I? We've all got a lot of shit going on in our lives. If she needed me to drop everything and help out, would I? I like to answer yes, to myself. But shouldn't I be doing more, in that case? Should I be showing up at her house uninvited, forcing everyone to be cheery? Should I drive by her house every day and pound on the door until she answers, then force her to get out of bed and go to work? What would I do when she doesn't answer the door? Break in? Give up? Try again the next day?
I don't really know where I'm going with this. Getting it all out is nice. Maybe if anyone reading this has suffered depression, you can let me know what your friends did that genuinely helped. Let me know how to be a good friend right now. My previous experience with Being A Good Friend hasn't covered this contingency.