A question for those who have suffered severe depression: Did you have circular conversations where you asked for help and then shot down all suggestions/offers? What did you get out of those conversations? What were you really trying to achieve? What did you really need to hear?
A number of people in my family suffer from severe, crippling depression. Mostly, they sort of know it, but are in denial about how it affects every facet of their life, especially their cognition. They won't get the proper help for it, and this is not a question about "how can I get them to help themselves" -- it's a question about practicalities.
For decades, I've found myself having similar circular conversations with family members. I never have these kinds of conversations with others, only with them. They usually involve me being asked for some kind of concrete information/advice and having all my answers shot down with increasing irritation/anger.
I'll give a fictitious example.
Family member: Do you know where I can get a 14" plumber's wrench?
Me: I've seen them at Home Depot recently.
FM: I hate that place! I refuse to go there.
Me: I don't blame you. I know Amazon definitely has them.
FM: Yeah, 'cause I really have two weeks to wait, and I really want to pay ridiculous shipping charges.
Me: Oh, I could buy it for you. I have Prime, so no shipping fee and we'll get it in two days.
FM: Yeah, but Amazon will have cheap crap. I need something high-quality.
Me: My plumber said he buys tools on Amazon.
FM: Well, maybe your plumber likes cheap crap tools.
Me: Hey, I just realized Mack's Plumbing Supply is only two blocks away! Mack's a great guy. He'll hook you up.
FM: They'll be closed.
Me: Nope! They're open 8-8, seven days a week!
FM: I don't have all the money in the world to throw away on fancy tools!
Me: Oh, Mack's prices are very reasonable.
(etc, ad nauseam. You get the idea. It ends when I'm out of ideas or admit I can't help, and usually by this time the other person is quite irritable/angry. It ends up feeling like a bitter argument, when I went in thinking I was going to help with a simple question.)
I've learned to circumvent most of these discussions by just playing dumb ("14" plumber's wrench? No idea, sorry!"), but I still get sucked in occasionally by the sheer concreteness of the question being asked and the deceptive idea that a straightforward answer will solve the problem.
My question is for those who have been in this crippling state of depression and have had these types of conversations. I've come to understand that these are some kind of meta-conversation, and I'm taking them too literally. In other words, the conversation above is clearly not about a plumber's wrench. But my dumb literal brain can't understand what it IS about, and what would be a satisfactory answer that wouldn't anger or frustrate the asker. What do these conversations mean? How can I make them more satisfying for both of us, so they don't end up with the asker furious and me frustrated and sad because my well-meaning "help" made things worse?
If you've been the asker in conversations like this, why did you start them? What were you trying to achieve? What did you want to hear? What would have helped you?