Living

Supporting someone with depression

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It’s hard. At times it’s really hard. As someone who’s been through depression and had support, and been there for someone else when they’ve been through it, I get how hard it can be.

At times is feels like the life is being sucked out of you. It takes so much energy, so much effort and so much love.

If you’re a good natured and kind person, you’ll want to help. And enough though you can’t feel all of the pain they are going through, you can see enough to know it’s hurting. If you’ve been through dark times yourself, perhaps it’s easier to be empathetic and show the level of compassion it requires.

But if you haven’t, this is an opportunity to find the strength within you and let your heart shine. It’s an opportunity to be resilient and dig deep for even more love and kindness.

 This is what I wanted:

I wanted to know someone cared. I wanted to someone to try to understand, but equally, leave me alone when I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted someone to care for me because it was the right thing to do, not because they felt they had to. I wanted someone to sit next to me when I wanted company. I wanted someone to cook food for me when I couldn’t muster enough strength to do it myself. I wanted someone to hug me when I felt low, and hold me with a feeling of belief. I wanted someone to make it feel okay and keep my life slowly moving forward. I wanted someone to see how badly I was hurting, but not let me stay there for too long. I wanted someone to help me see it will get better. I wanted someone to make me smile a little smile when it didn’t seem possible.

As for what to do, to be the best support you can, here’s a few thoughts from my experience.

  1. Give love, kindness and inspiration, but not answers. Do as much as you can to support the person, but remember it’s their journey and not yours. They need to know someone believes in them when they don’t believe in themselves.
  1. Be as tolerant, forgiving and compassionate as you can. For some period of time you will need to accept that the behaviour they are showing, won’t be positive and it won’t be the best reflection of who they truly are. They need to space to work through it without feeling judged or guilty.
  1. Get real when you need to. When the time comes when you think professional support is needed, be the shining light they need. It may be a difficult conversation, but it needs to be firm and from a place of massive love. Love for the person they can return to be.
  1. Look after yourself. If it’s prolonged suffering, it can take it’s toll. Be as patient as you can and protect your own wellbeing in the process. And importantly, whilst being a supportive hero, don’t take responsibility for their happiness into your hands. When you have the energy, be inspiring and loving, but carrying expectation of saving someone is only going to get you down too.
  1. Don’t treat depression just like they are having a bad day. It probably is a bad day and it’s probably hard for them to describe how it really is. Sometime you might be able to help them snap out of a negative train of thought, but be sensitive. It’s not always about pulling them up, it’s as much about sitting with them when they are down and when they’re ready, get up together.

When then hardest part is over and you can see the light again, they’ll thank you more than you can ever imagine. I know I did. I still cry at the thought of the level of love and support I had and how much it still means to me now.

I’m forever grateful.

Much love to you for being someone’s hero.

Andy

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