Don’t ever ever say to someone with depression “….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.
Depression and anxiety aren’t things based purely on have vs have not, it’s much more complex than that.
For me, the hardest thing 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.
Knowing what to say and do when someone you love suffers from depression is tricky. Knowing how to help without being forceful is tricky. This person you love will seem fine one day and then sad and distant the next.
I need to be really clear, nothing beats professional help. 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.
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 add to the clutter in my mind. I find myself getting distracted by the clutter, but achieving nothing because I’m unsure where to start.
Help kill the clutter by:
- Putting junk mail straight in the bin, and not allowing it pile up.
- Keeping up with the dishes and not letting dirty dishes pile up.
- Skipping the floor storage system and making sure clean clothes are put away and dirty clothes are in the washing basket.
- Putting things where they belong rather having homeless item strewn across the house.
Killing the clutter will help foster a sense of calm.
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.
Left to my own devices, sometimes I think I could spend days and weeks wrapped up in the safety of my home. Like many things, the longer I stayed shut away from the world the harder it is to step back outside.
Personally when I’m not well crowds and loud parties aren’t ideal, for me “out and about” refers to getting outside in the elements with friends. Things like joining a club can be tricky as it can require what feels like a giant step out of my comfort zone.
How To Get Out and About:
- Go out for a low-key meal.
- Go for a walk, see if someone needs their dog walked… the extra motivation helps.
- Get into the garden… grow herbs, flowers, whatever floats their boat!
- Go to a book store or library, it will fill those moments holed up at home a little more purpose.
- Go for a picnic – even in winter you can wrap up warm and have a candlelit dinner picnic or early morning beach picnic…. think outside the box
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 to learn what they are going through. Work to build a better understanding of what they’re 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.
- Don’t ever judge or criticise, the things you say and do could have a much bigger impact than you think.
- Don’t throw around clichés, they simply down trivialise the situation.
- Be patient.
- Avoid the tough-love or lions dens approach. Depression is a medical issue, and you wouldn’t employ this method when dealing with some suffering from cancer.
- Don’t minimise their pain. Don’t shame. Don’t downplay.
- Avoid comparing and offering advice.
Remember most importantly, by being there and asking how you can help you are letting someone know that they are not alone. You don’t need have the answers, just be there.
These tips aren’t the answer, the answer is far as I’m concerned is always professional help. In what ever form you need it to be in.