Knowing what to do, or how to handle things when someone you know has depression or anxiety can be tricky. You can feel like there’s a constant elephant in the room, or that your treading on egg shells. Everyone’s journey is different and even if you’ve battled through depression or anxiety, your journey will be different to anyone else’s.
There are hundreds of different blogs, articles and books aimed at explaining and simplifying what you can do to help someone going through depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, but in all honesty there is no straight forward answer.
I’ve heard some stupid advice over the years
” …you have nothing to be depressed about, there are plenty of people who have things worse.” If that was how being depressed was determined, then by the same token, why bother being happy as there is always someone who has it better.
I know for me personally my biggest problem has always been, and will probably always continue to be my self confidence. There is nothing I doubt more than my place in the world, my own abilities and how other people see me. Depression and anxiety aren’t things based purely on have vs have not, it’s much more complex than that. One of the hardest things for me to hear, has always been comparisons to “normal“. There is no such thing as normal and using normal as gauge isn’t fair. Not everybody plays sport, not everybody likes to socialise in the same way, because not everybody is the same.
Help Kill The Clutter.
At times my mind is a fairly cluttered space, even more so I’m not feel the best. My daily to do list can feel like it’s getting longer and longer, and I’m left with little time to be still and switch off. Added clutter like discarded shoes, junk mail and dishes can magnify the clutter in my mind and once in a “clutter” filled mindset I can find myself getting distracted by the and achieving nothing simply because I don’t know where to start. Helping kill the clutter will foster a sense of calm and allow someone to focus their energy on the right things.
Help Make Being Healthy Easy.
I’m never consistent in terms of which way I go, but when I’m depressed my eating habits will change. I can easily flit from over eating and bingeing on sweet food and greasy food to simply having no appetite at all. In either case, I certainly lack the energy to cook and can find that takeaways are easier than cooking a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat only makes matters worse. It’s depressing to put on weight, and it’s depressing to have no energy due to poor eating choices. Help by encouraging healthy choices, even when Friday takeaways seems much more preferable.
Get Them Out And About
When someone is feeling down it can be really challenging for them to leave the safety of their little bubble or nest, shutting themselves away can seem like the easiest the option. I know left to my own devices sometimes I could spend days and weeks wrapped up in the safety of my home, but like many things in life, the longer I stay shut away from the world the harder it is to step back outside.
Personally when I’m not well large crowds and loud parties aren’t ideal for me but remaining social and getting “out and about” helps me retain some sense of normalicy and stops me feeling isolated. For me feeling isolated when I’m “down” can magnify things and make the situation seem almost hopeless.
Understand. Challenge. Encourage
The answers may not always make sense, there isn’t a great deal of logic in being depressed, but ask anyway. Ask how they’re feeling. Ask what they’re thinking, and work on learning to understand what they are going through. Anything that will give you insight will help you determine what actions may help.
A never ending loop can often play in a depressed mind, it can be painful and destructive. Understand what makes up that loop… and challenge it. Shut it down. Stop the loop. Challenge untruths with the truth.“You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”
While trying to understand, and trying to challenge, you need to encourage. Encourage continued “self-care” and ensure that someone is doing more than just surviving. Remind them to be kind to themselves and treat themselves to the sweeter things in life by taking charge of some of the chores and encouraging them to use the time for themselves… give them permission to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.
Remember most importantly, you don’t need to have all the answers or magic fixes for someone suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental illness, by simply being there and asking how you can help, you are letting someone know that they are not alone.
I need to be really clear that when dealing with depression, anxiety or mental illness nothing beats professional help, encourage someone to visit their GP, and even go with them if they need the support. The first step is always the hardest, but it will always make the biggest difference. I am not a doctor. I’m an average person and these are simple things that I know help me when things seem… a little grey and cloudy.
The answer and solution is always… seek professional help, and keep seeking until you find someone can provide the help you need.