What the mental health professionals call isolating is withdrawing from contact with other people. This is often the first symptom of depression. Whenever my depression deepens I begin isolating from others. It becomes increasingly difficult to make contact with people just when I need that contact the most. There are several reasons for my withdrawal.
First, many of my friends are uncomfortable with any discussion of suicide or depression Most of them know that my husband killed himself two years ago but generally they find reference to it conversationally difficult. If I admit to my depression people change the subject. Naturally I don’t want to cause them distress so I no longer bring it up. I understand their feelings because most of them are older woman whose lives have been much more settled than mine. As a result only one friend knows about this site. I find it easier to blog than talk in person with the people I know. From what I have learned from other people who have depression and suicidal ideation this feeling of rejection is common problem whether real or perceived.
Second, one of my primary symptoms of depression is confusion. I can’t explain myself coherently. When I try to express what is going on my mind becomes mush. Recently the one friend that wants to help me in by discussing my condition with me and who knows of this site tried to offer some suggestions and discuss my mood. I became so confused trying to explain myself that I fled her house. That happened last week. This week I apologized and explained about the confusion and we agreed that we wouldn’t try to talk about my depression in-depth when I am in the throes of confusion. I really appreciate her understanding and sympathy.
Third, some of my friends believe that since I am a Christian I shouldn’t be depressed. Certainly most Christians with some life experience don’t believe this but enough do so that I am constantly on the lookout for this particular land mine. I am not particularly cogent when depressed so instead of speaking coherently about what I am experiencing I often just become defensive which is counter productive. The belief that a believing Christian is a happy person at every level is a common misconception. Certainly my faith gives me happiness and joy but that is often at the deepest levels of my being when my brain goes into a depressive episode.
So what does a depressed and suicidal person need? I can speak for myself by acknowledging that what I need most is for someone to express that they care and that they do not judge me or my faith by what is occurring during my depression. My first priority is to keep in mind that this is a passing event. That it is a trial by God, deserved or not. Next, I need to do the things which I know will help me come out of the mental fugue as quickly as possible. So I need to pray, exercise and do my best to keep in touch with others. That I may express doubts that I am not normally afflicted with is just part of the package. Certainly Job questioned why God allowed him to go through his trial.