6 Ways You Can Help Friends Cope With Depression
There is a proverb; “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” From that, I believe it is fair to say my friend’s enemy is my enemy. In so much as we fight illness and disease, they are an enemy.
The reading from other submissions in this forum, coupled with my own experience prompted this article to help friends, help their friends with the struggle. Here are 6 ways you can help.
1. Expect me to answer your question; “How are you?”
My true feelings are the answer I want to give a friend. You mean more to me, and deserve the honesty and truth of my condition.
“Fine”, would be my reply to an acquaintance or stranger.
2. Sometimes I need you to just listen.
I am not always looking for an answer, sometimes I just need to vent.
3. Expect inconsistency.
When I take time for me, I am not avoiding you.
4. Present me with challenges.
Remind me that I am not defined or confined by my illness.
5. Know that I will be back.
Once I find my strength, I will be back to my social norm.
6. Never give up.
I am always worried that I am a burden and you are going to leave.
You wanting to help is always appreciated, but even if you share an affliction, you’re not living in my moment. Please understand, and try not to take offense if your advice seems to be falling on deaf ears, it isn’t. Processing feelings or finding a way to apply a coping method you have suggested takes a little time.
Point out how much I enjoyed our last visit and getting out is therapeutic. Never stop reminding me that I am not my illness. Urge me to engage and go out. I may still not have the strength in that moment, but I’ll know you accept me, and my imperfections.
All of this may seem obvious to some, but to people afflicted with anxiety and depression, we see the world through a different lens. We have lost jobs, relationships, and in the worst cases, some have considered giving up their lives to Mental Illness through isolation or suicide. People we thought were friends pushed their own agenda, family grew impatient and forced their point of view, and many people walked out in our darkest moments.
There is no cure for Mental Illness, only management. You are a key component of that management strategy. Doctors have to be there. Family is expected to be there. Friends choose to be there, seeing past the illness, accepting us for who we are and helping us return to who we used to be, and we appreciate that more than you will ever know.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via Felix Russell-Saw.