“You just have to change your mindset.”

By Emma FNovember 28, 2022

“Look at the positive,” they say.
“You just have to change your mindset.”
“Why can’t you be happy?”

These are some of the things people say to those with depression that are not at all helpful. Every time someone would say something like this to me, it felt as if they were implying that I wasn’t trying to get better or that I didn’t want to be happy.

It’s like someone having the flu and people telling them to not have a fever or a cough. It is not something they can control at all. And with depression, we can’t control how we feel sometimes.

Throughout my struggle with depression, there have been many ups and downs, during which there have been many questions asked and comments made by others that were flat-out unhelpful and even hurtful. While they were most likely said with good intentions, it showed just how difficult it is for those without depression or mental health challenges to understand.

The hardest for me was when people would ask what was so wrong in my life for me to be depressed about or say that there was nothing bad enough for me to feel how I was feeling. My life is pretty good.

I am lucky to have what I have, but as hard as I try, sometimes my brain makes it really tough for me to feel or be happy. And the thing is, if I knew what was causing me sadness, I would have fixed the problem a long time ago.

So, if you ever come in contact with someone who has depression, please listen and talk to them with empathy. Chances are they are fighting just to function, so be patient and support them when they share or ask for help. It is hard living each day sad and hopeless, it takes a toll, and it might seem like we’re not trying to get better—but it is difficult to get better when you can barely function.

Yes, recovering from depression is possible, but it takes a lot of time and work. So if you are supporting someone with depression, remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you are there to listen and help them through it.

Depression has a way of making us feel incredibly isolated. We’re here to remind you of the truth that you are not alone. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].

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Comments (8)

  1. Kathleen Loftus

    As a therapist, I have treated many people with depression. A few have completes suicide. The message of this article is so important. Thank you for writing it.

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  2. s

    1 – People don’t like to be presented a ‘problem’ which has a complex and non-uniform plan of action. Not everyone is cold-hearted, some just don’t want to feel inadequate.
    2 – I’ve been told by exhausted friends that I just need to stop crying and be grateful.
    3 – ‘Recovery’ is a tricky word. I used to think it meant – to get so much better that the psychological injury no longer affects everyday life. But professionals sometimes mean – this will never stop, you just need to learn to cope.

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  3. Amy Temple

    Very well written 😊. I personally haven’t experienced depression but dealt with low self esteem issues for many years due to discrimination and rejection because I have learning disabilities and minor issues with my fine motor skills. It took me a long time to recover but I finally got there 👍. You can survive and live your best life. Just keep on believing.
    (Check out my blog artemple at https://artemple.tumblr.com)

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  4. Kelli Bartlett

    Thank you for sharing… I have been talking with my daughter a lot lately about her feelings of depression. We spent about 12 hours in the car over the weekend helping her brother get set up as he came home from his in-patient portion of his battle with addiction. I have struggled with bipolar II since age 10 which was about 15 years before I was diagnosed. So I speak to my kids with a level of empathy most can’t. Everything you wrote was like listening to my daughter’s words. I’m going to share this with her and I hope she finds comfort in someone putting words to her thoughts. And hopefully, she finds comfort in not being the only one. It’s ok to “not just get over it” but the strength and power comes when you figure out how to not let it own you.
    Again, thank you for sharing… I appreciate you!

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      Thank you so very much for finding the time and energy to share all of this. We’re so glad you found Emma’s blog, and that it resonated with you and will be something you also encourage your daughter to read. Your kids are fortunate to have such an empathetic and understanding parent in their lives. We are grateful for that. It’s so important that we give ourselves and others the space to be vulnerable and honest. Thank you for creating an environment where that can happen.

      With Hope,

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  5. Ash

    This really spoke to me. Because all throughout my short 29 years on this planet, I’ve had people tell me that “oh, it’s not that bad ” or the typical ” well … There’s others who have it way worse than you do, you’ll be alright ” and been told to just “shake it off”. All of that may be true, but that doesn’t take away all the trauma I’ve had to endure nor the hardships I’ve been faced with and I wish I could just shake the depression off, but that’s just not how it works. You can’t just say : “oh, I’m not gonna depressed or sad today!” And expect that to be it. It doesn’t work that way. And I don’t think some people realize the impact of their words, hearing those things only makes the depression worse for that person. It makes you feel guilty for having the feelings you do, because others really may have tougher battles than you do. So it just leaves a big guilt cloud hovering over your head and leaves a nagging pain in your stomach.

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  6. Anna

    This story was very helpful to read. I often find myself getting upset with myself and frustrated when I try to think positively yet depression continues to take a hold of me. I know those who don’t understand depression try to say the right things but sometimes they make us feel worse because we are trying hard but still in the hole. I really appreciate this post. Thank you.

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  7. David

    I understand

    Reply  |  
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