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5 Gifts You Can Buy (and 3 You Can't) for a Person With Major Depressive Disorder

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OK, I get it, the person with major depressive disorder in your life may not be around enough for most people to consider shopping for him or her this Christmas. Honestly, I wish it wasn’t this way, and I wish I had the energy and the strength to get out more. I miss my loved ones and write letters to them that never get sent all the time. I curl up in my bed and my heart flies away from my heavy, sorrowed body and into the places I once loved most – with you.

Now, you are here, reading this article, which means you also dearly love, and miss, the person in your life who struggles with MDD. You want to help them. You want to support them and their recovery. I’ve compiled two lists here today. One for your credit card and one for you personally.

Purchasable Gifts for a Person With Major Depressive Disorder

1. Soft Fleece Bedding

Let’s face it, we spend a lot of our time in bed. As a major depressive I fight most days to get out of bed long enough to bathe, and most days I am not successful. I lay in bed, sleeping and awake, waiting for the good days to swing around again or for my meds to actually work for once. Last year my grandmother got me a soft velvety-feeling blanket and sheets that make my nights and mornings just that much easier to bear. It really is a blessing to receive soft and warm bedding when you are depressed.

2. Music. Music. Music.

Do your research, find out which bands are popular in the mental health community. For me, a ’90s baby, I am a huge fan of bands/artists like Emilie Autumn (seriously check her out), My Chemical Romance, Halsey, The Crows, and generally anything ’90s and significantly melancholy. It’s not because I enjoy reveling in my depression — quite the opposite. The sad and shaking songs by these artists offer a strong catharsis in simply saying, “You aren’t alone” and “You’re not OK right now, and that’s OK,” which can be lifesaving messages.

3. Craft Supplies

It may sound strange, but craft supplies can really be a major win for someone with major depressive disorder (MDD). I know that being artistic helps me feel useful and talented, like I have a thing to offer the world. They don’t even have to be good at it for crafting to feel good.

4. Bath Stuff

You know what makes a bath more enticing for the person too depressed to get into the bath? The prospect of a really nice bath. Tea lights, essential oils, salts, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, and a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. That makes my whole week when I haven’t done so well. Setting up my bath to just relax and unwind me, with soft music and warm scents like cinnamon or toasted sugar, can help me have a good day the next day. Just being able to really pamper myself can lift my mood enough for me to be more productive the next day.

5. Books — especially trilogies or more.

I enjoy reading fiction stories. It is a welcome escape from my illness and the world that won’t have me for it. Get your loved one a good long series of books so they can have that solace and know you care about them enough to give that to them.

Now for the list you can’t buy.

1. Your Own Education

Do your homework. Get really educated on your loved one’s depression. Become so knowledgeable that you no longer need these kinds of articles. Then use your education to support them. Get to know what kind of meds they are taking and how those meds are affecting them. Become an advocate for them, and offer to go their prescriber with them and discuss what you see from your own perspective and help the doctor better understand their patient’s needs. Your education could go so very far in helping them get healthy again.

2. Your Willingness

Be willing to hear them out. Listen to what they feel and think and say. Offer to help them find solutions and accept any response. Asking for help is terrifying. A letter from you expressing the willingness to be an ally and an advocate will open a lot of doors.

3. Your Empathy

Commiserate to the best of your ability. Understand that you, if you do not have MDD, do not know what major depression feels like and cannot possible feign that knowledge. But you can use your own experiences to try to grasp some of the problem. Ever lost a loved one? Use the way grief felt. Ever lost a sentimental thing? Use that grief too. Any point where sadness, or even the lack of feeling entirely, was overwhelming. Go back to that place and try to reach out through those experiences. That will do more good than any pep talk.

As a major depressive, I don’t really want or need much from my loved ones. I am incredibly good at being alone and surviving. I am resilient and determined. I want to get better – this is not comfortable. You stretching out a hand to say, “I love you, with all of your problems included. I will always be here for you to reach out to and you will never need to fear a bad reaction from me. I am a safe place to run to.” Those words have saved my life on many an occasion.

Now, as with any illness, this is just from my own perspective and my place in the world. The more you get to know what your loved one with major depressive disorder is going through personally, the better you will do at supporting them.

Thanks for reading.

Follow this journey on The Little Tea Lady. To see more of Mandey’s work, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and on Patreon.

Thinkstock photo by Anton Chechotkin

Originally published: December 21, 2016
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