Just a quick one. Following on from ‘how to help a friend in crisis’, a few terms have been popping up in my head, things that people have said to me that have stayed with me or been of some comfort.
If you’re reading this, presumably you know that depression and mental illness are very real and very trying, all-consuming. People going through it need love and tenderness and if you’re someone who’s willing and able to give that to them then you are honestly incredible – you’re here and that in itsels amazing and I thank you. However, please be aware that those who ‘care’ may need support too. Truth is, you have a life of your own and it can be emotionally taxing to care for someone who’s in a bad way, you may not be able to be there for them 24/7. Make sure you are checking in with yourself and the type of care you can provide & the time you can give. There are support groups for you if you feel it’s necessary or would be helpful. BeyondBlue & HelpGuide.org have some useful advice and resources.
“How can I help/what can I do”/How can I best support you right now?” – chances are the answer is ‘not much’ if anything at all, but often just knowing that someone out there is willing to do what they can is enough to help a little.
“We’ll beat this together” – this acknowledges the battle they’re facing, gives a little hope & can help them feel less isolated throughout it. It’s positive, it’s proactive and it’s always nice to have a comrade by your side to help fight the demons.
General questions like “how are you” are used as everyday greetings and are often not taken as an enquiry but more as friendly small talk, so it’s all too easy to get in the habitual reply of “good thanks, you?”. Tiny changes in your choice of words can make a huge difference: instead, ask “how are you feeling today?“, it shows that you care and are aware that they are going through a tough time. When you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, you are often living day-to-day and some days can be lighter, some can be darker. It’s nice when someone cares enough to ask.
“You matter so much to me/you’re so important to me” – self-explanatory. They may no longer feel that they matter, they most likely feel like people dislike or even hate them. Personally, I feel so much guilt for feeling like a ‘drag’ or a ‘downer’ when I’m depressed. It can really help to know that not everyone feels how I feel about myself.
“Would it help to talk about it?” – caring, sensitive and to-the-point. They know you’re there for them but there’s no pressure for them to talk about it if it’s not the right time.
Bottom line is, you can’t fix them & you can’t make their depression go away. You can, however, help them feel less isolated by just being there and willing to listen. You can do nice things with them or have daft chats that remind them of what they love. Sometimes distractions can be good – as long as it doesn’t slip into avoidance, so be yourself as that’s who they love. There’s no need to tread on eggshells around them, be yourself and reach out when you can, it can make the world of difference.