“Are you sure you’re not just depressed?” and other unhelpful things to say 

Oh I know, it must be almost irreaitable when you hear someone moaning on about how crap things are, but if these words ever cross your mind when it comes to dealing with someone with a chronic condition – just don’t. 

Obviously it’s a disservice to one the individual is struggling with – and we’ll rant about that momentarily – but there is no such thing as “just depression” and referring to it in such terms is a hideous thing to do. Depression is an evil creature, a killer, and something that does often go hand in hand with chronic pain. 

Now – to business. 

Yes, being depressed makes you more receptive to pain signals, but equally being in pain constantly makes you depressed quite easily, so where that cycle starts and ends is a mystery. To blame or reduce pain down to and on depression is, at best, misintentioned, and at worst, simply cruel. 

There are a long list of things Spoonies are used to hearing, but for me personally this is one of the most nerve pricking. Because I do have depression, and I do have pain, but for fucks sake, do me the courtesy of respecting I can probably tell the difference. 

This is my body and my health. I have lived with these symptoms for a very long time now, and yes, I am completely sure I’m not “just depressed”.

It’s also worth noting that the people saying these things also tend to have no idea of what depression actually consists of, and just think it makes you miserable, which puts even more of a sting in the tail of the comment, because effectively what those people mean is “stop whining”. 

Both depression and chronic pain need to be discussed more, and beyond that, what you must remember is sometimes there is nothing else to say except the pain. There’s nothing else on your mind, because the pain itself is so overwhelming, so all encompassing, it’s not a case of whining, but of simply having nothing else to say. It takes over, it destroys and floors you, and that is all there is. Pain, fatigue, fear, pain, tears and a bit more pain. 

So if you ever find that phrase on the edge of your lips…. Please. Just don’t say it. 


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