Be the light in the dark, be the calm in the storm and be at peace while at war. Mike Dolan
Depression- a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.
When a friend or family member is suffering with depression our first reaction is to do whatever we can to help. But in the case of how to help someone with depression, hold off on talking and just listen. When you listen with compassion and understanding it sometimes will allow us to open up more.
When talking to someone with depression try saying things such as, ‘I want to know what you’re going through,’ ‘What can I do to help you feel better?’ and ‘I’m here for you, to talk to and support you.’” Allowing people to open up on their own terms helps us feel like we are being listen to. There is a stigma regarding depression and it’s almost embarrassing to admit. We don’t want to feel judged, pittied, or ashamed.
Most of the time for me, I choose not to open up. People always say, “I know how you feel”, well the honest truth is, unless you have experienced what I am going through, you don’t know. You don’t know the sleepless nights, the soaked pillowcases, the fear I see on my children’s faces, and the helplessness in my husband’s eyes. The burns from the heating pads, the throwing up, and frequent trips to the bathroom. People just don’t know.
So many times, I experience people talking about how they feel, trying to help maybe steer the conversation away, but sometimes it makes me feel like my depression is almost minimized. When Matt and I talk, he always says, “I don’t know how you feel but, please help me understand.” This helps me to open up. Not only because he shows genuine interest in being there for me, but also allows me to speak freely, without judgement.
People with depression are not dumb, at least the ones I know are not. We can tell when someone is concerned. We know when we become a burden, we can feel the frustration that is projected on to us because of us. I know it gets frustrating for my family and friends, but they NEVER project that on to me. They try to understand and be there, even if it’s just sitting in silence.
It doesn’t take much to let a friend who’s struggling with depression know you’re there for them. Small gestures can help them feel that they aren’t alone. A handwritten note or sending a card can brighten a depressed person’s day. I have received a few cards and I can tell you it really makes a difference. The past few months I have had a hard time cooking for my family, I feel like a failure as a wife, and mother at these times. I have been blessed with friends and family who help take care of the things I am unable to. They have brought over meals, offered to clean, taken my kids out and have just stopped by to say hi. I would never ask for help, it’s not who I am. But those who are around you, know when you need help and they rally around to do whatever they can.
To someone who is trying to help someone with depression, it’s important to understand you can not “fix” them. We are not able to just “get over it”, when we experience these kinds of things it only makes us feel worse. Even saying things like, “Look on the bright side” can make us feel as if our feelings are somehow wrong.
Depression is tricky. Sometimes I want people here. But I get nervous, anxious and almost scared. Because of this most times I just want to be alone. I don’t want to feel the pressure of entertaining or being forced to talk. Or even worse trying to ignore the big elephant in the room, which at the time is me. Matt use to work grave shift, and some weekends. He would always ask me to call some of my friends over to keep me company. Of course, I never did. I never want to make anyone feel obligated to do anything. And in my distorted mind I feel like a burden to everyone in regards to everything.
Don’t give up on us. Please be patient with us. We are wounded, not broken. We need support even when we push away. Please continue to call, text, visit. Sometimes those little things are just what we need to get out of bed.