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5 Ways to Help a Loved One With Depression (Besides Saying 'I'm Sorry')

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“Oh, I’m sorry, hun.”

“I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that.”

I’m tired. I’m tired of the words, “I’m sorry.” At this point, if you could just come up with another way of phrasing that, I’d appreciate it.

I’m not looking for you to feel sorry for me. When I tell you about my current struggle with depression, anxiety, and self-harm, I’m not wanting to hear how sorry you feel for me.

I need your help.

I feel sorry for myself enough already. When I reach out and tell you I’m hurting, you’re my lifeline. You’re the one thing I see who could possibly save me. I’m feeling weak, yet reaching out is the strongest thing I could do.

When I reach out for help, I’m looking for actions. I don’t want to ask you to do something for me, I don’t want to feel like a burden. Yet, I need you to do something for me. I need you to actually get up and do something to help me.

If you don’t know how to help a loved one in their time of need while they’re struggling with mental health issues, here’s a list of things I know I’d at least appreciate. It’s not the same for everyone. We all process these things differently.

1. Offer to come pick me up.

I’m depressed, which means I’m more than likely isolating myself. This only makes things worse, yet I don’t have the strength to get out on my own. I need a helping hand. Offer to come pick me up and take me out to breakfast, coffee, or to a park to just relax. Get me out of the apartment that has recently become my prison.

2. Come have dinner with me.

Sometimes, when I’m depressed I eat a lot of junk food. Usually, though, I’m not eating at all. This is thanks to stress as well as my medication which makes me not hungry. To be honest, I’m going on four days without eating anything. I tried to force myself to eat yesterday. It didn’t work. Try offering to come cook me dinner, or bring over some food you picked up on the way. Ask me what my favorites are. I’m more likely to eat those when I’m not feeling hungry.

3. Just be there for me.

I had one friend this past week invite me over to eat tacos and watch Netflix. It’s as simple as that. I know I need to get out, so I might be strong enough to meet you at your place. But if I’m not, please be understanding. Come hang out with me in my apartment. Just talk to me. Depression lies to me. It tells me I’m all alone when I’m not. If you show up to spend time with me, I’d probably cry tears of joy if I weren’t feeling so numb from depression.

4. Pick up the phone.

I understand life goes on. You can’t always be physically there for me all the time. Try picking up the phone and texting me if you’re busy. If you have just a few minutes, a phone call could make the difference. Seeing someone is thinking about you while you’re struggling means more than I could ever say. It could save a life.

5. Ask when you don’t know.

If you have no idea how to help, ask what you can do. I may not know, I may be too ashamed to ask for what I truly need, but you offered. And that is something no one has done before. No one has ever asked me, “What can I do to help you. Anything, just name it.” In times of loneliness and isolation, this could be the strength I need to realize someone does actually care.

I hope this helps someone who loves a person with depression and anxiety. I hope it gives you an idea to what they may need. Please, just ask what you can do. And be willing to do it. Thank you all for being our friends.

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Photo by alien185

Originally published: October 25, 2016
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