ever feel like punching someone in the nose for suggesting, “if you only did this, you wouldn’t be depressed anymore.” i’ve been there. there is a reason for that. my last cycle through depression has taught me much about support. here is an abridged theory of support as put forward, by me, bipolarsojourner.
there are three main types of support, solutions, acknowledgements, and a conglomeration that i’ll simply call neutral. they are all valid types of support and they all work sometimes. let me introduce them.
solution based support
as the name implies has solutions at the heart. gotta problem? we gotta a box here full of handy solutions. surely one of them will work. solutions can have a wide range of force from commands and demands, like the use of works like must, should and ought, to suggestions, tips, or things i’ve tried that might work for you.
solutions tend to carry the highest level of judgement. a person receiving this type of support may feel some level of guilt, some level of being judged by the person offering up the solutions. these feelings can be further compounded when they come from someone in authority like a doctor or a parent. having such great knowledge, if i can follow through with their solution, something truly must be wrong with me.
acknowledgement based support
sometimes people just need to know they are okay, right were they are. this process helps to sooth and calm the mind and soul. this can be accomplished by acknowledgements. the basic type of acknowledgements are acknowledge their presence, journey, good times, bad times, and accomplishments. acknowledgements are simply a recognition of where someone is or where they have been. for that reason, the person receiving the acknowledgement has a much lower chance to feel judged. that inherently makes acknowledging safer to use, especially in the new situation where you may not feel up to speed.
if a support isn’t a solution or a acknowledgement, it goes in here. some examples of the these are devil’s advocate, countering a thought or idea; suggestions; or measurement, comparing to where someone has been. neutral support still can carry judgements and measurement can even backfire. imagine if someone told you they thought you were doing better this week, but you did not feel that way. your thoughts might wander to “holy crap. i’m suppose to be feeling better this week, but i’m not. i must be doing something wrong! i feel wrong and judged.”
everyone has a primary desire of support. that is there fall back type of support. this type of support offers them the most comfort. everyone also has situational support desires. a person desiring primarily acknowledgements still can be open to solutions at times, and a person desiring primarily solutions can be stoked by and acknowledgement now and then.
here in lies why support doesn’t seem to work sometimes, why it appears to be broken. if a person desires solution based support, if they get neutral or acknowledgement based support they likely will go away unfulfilled. if a person desires acknowledgement based support, if they get neutral or solution based support they likely will go away unfulfilled. crossed support paths break down the support process and do not function correctly. this can lead either feelings of unfulfillment or worse yet, feelings of being broken .
i have seen many to most of the depressed people struggle with the self issues, self esteem, self worth and self value. these struggles push them towards hearing acknowledgements because they want to be okay, to counter all the doubts about self that run through their heads.
unfortunately, society has moved away from acknowledgements, solutions have become far more important. how to solve this, how to fix that, has become the law of the land. the law gets applied to depression. but, for the most part, depressed people would benefit more from getting acknowledgements than solutions.
this describes the great disjoint: depressed people mostly desire acknowledgement but receive solutions. when that happens they go away feeling unfulfilled, even sometimes feeling worse than when they first started.
there has to be a way to shake up the world to the importance of acknowledgements. too many people desire them and don’t get them. they are stuck in a world where everything is fix, fix fix, solve solve, solve. the world has to know that acknowledgements are just another round about solution just waiting to aid depressed people and the world.