There are many, many things we'd never say to someone with a serious physical illness like cancer.

Things like:

  • "A lot of people are worse off than you."
  • "I'm getting tired of hearing about this."
  • "Snap out of it."
  • "You're kind of dragging me down."
  • "Why don't you just go outside and get some sunshine. You'll be fine."
  • "Can we stop with the pity party?"ll


Image via Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

And yet people dealing with depression hear these kinds of statements all too often.

Why is that? Well, it's probably partly because of the way we talk about depression.

"We use the word depression all the time in our ordinary language to talk about feeling down or upset about something that makes us feel low or bad," Dr. Harold Koenigsberg, a psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, shared with Upworthy.

Those feelings are normal, and we all experience them, but we're talking about a medical condition here — something that persists for a few weeks or longer and something that can even put a person at risk for suicide. Depression isn't a fleeting feeling or a temporary mood.

The folks behind the nonprofit Hope for Depression Research Foundation created a powerful one-minute PSA to make an excellent point.

If you can't imagine yourself saying any of these damaging things to a person battling cancer, you shouldn't ever consider saying them to someone battling depression, another life-threatening illness.

If you have a minute, watch, then scroll down for some expert advice on what we should say.

Depression is serious, and it affects many people.

Image via iStock.

"Depression is a very common disorder," Koenigsberg said. He explained that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will suffer from major depression at some point in their life.

Those statistics mean it's pretty likely we all know someone who has dealt with depression at one point or another.

So we know what not to say. But what should we say and do?

1. Listen.

Koenigsberg, who's also on the board of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, said the first thing we should do if someone we care about is experiencing depression is to listen. "Be a good listener," he said. "Be interested in what they’re going through and what they’re feeling."

He recommends remaining nonjudgmental "to give the message that you care about them and you’re accessible to them."

2. Encourage the person to seek professional help.

If they're stuck in the depression — if it's not going away for days and days; if it's affecting their sleep, appetite, and physical function; if they're not able to work; if they feel hopeless, suicidal, etc. — "you want to encourage them to get help," Koenigsberg said.

3. Remember that it may not be obvious to the person that they need help.

"It's worth thinking about how to encourage someone who's depressed to get help," Koenigsberg said. First, many people feel like they should be able to manage it themselves. And second, he pointed out that many people experiencing depression feel hopeless. "They can feel like nothing is going to help them, so why bother?"

4. Point out the benefits of seeking outside help.

Photo by iStock.

"It can be useful to tell people that depression is in fact very responsive to treatment and often, talking with an neutral person can make a big difference," Koenigsberg explained. "[Talking to] a person who isn’t involved in their life … can give them more leverage with the issues that they’re struggling with."

When it comes to medication, he said that some people feel resistant because they're focused on a particular situation or issue that's contributed to the depression. That makes it harder to understand how medication could help.

"It’s often helpful to explain that when you’re under a lot of emotional stress or a situation that is taxing on you — a big burden or strain — if that goes on for a while, it can set off a chain reaction of chemistry in the brain," he said. "It can set off disregulations in different brain chemicals, and medication can reset that. ... By getting the chemistry back to normal, that will give them more resources to help the issue they’re struggling with."

5. Make it easier for the person to get help.

Remember that when someone is facing depression, even simple, everyday tasks can feel daunting and overwhelming. As such, the additional step of finding someone to talk to might be too much. "It's hard to get over the hurdle," Koenigsberg said. "Make it easier by giving them a phone number."

You could help them research their insurance coverage and find a doctor on their plan, or you could assist in locating a clinic that will help folks who don't have insurance if that's a barrier to seeking help.

6. Physical exercise is helpful.

Photo by iStock.

While you should never tell someone to get out and get some sunshine as though that'll cure their depression, Koenigsberg points out that physical exercise can be helpful to someone experiencing depression. Drop by and ask the person if they'd like to go for a walk with you.

7. Check in.

Showing up is important — and it doesn't have to be in the physical sense if that's not possible. Call the person and ask how they're doing. When you're done talking, tell them you're going to check back in soon so they know you're there for them.

Depression isn't just a temporary mood. It's a serious medical condition that needs treatment. And by keeping these tips in mind, not only can we avoid saying the wrong things, but we can be there to say and do the right things.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Family

Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo asked their stepmom to adopt them in a touching video.

Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

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