To know how to help someone with depression you need to understand a little bit about what it feels like to be depressed. As I mentioned here, depression can feel a little bit like there are two people in your head, the regular one and the depressed one. The regular one is having just about the same reaction to the depressed person that most people outside your head have. Thoughts like: Why can’t you just get over it? Go get a hobby/keep busy/exercise and you’ll feel better. People have way worse problems than you do and THEY aren’t depressed, have a little perspective. All these things you are saying to yourself all the time. So none of these things are really helpful to have someone else say. You know what, if you’ve thought it, we’ve thought it. Thanks but no thanks on the obvious answers. Often someone will make these helpful suggestions and the depressed person will respond angrily or defensively, and stubbornly seem to refuse to the see the apparent wisdom of the remarks. This is why. We’ve already given ourselves this advice and it didn’t work. If you think you’re irritated by that, if you think it’s aggravating to be around someone who can’t seem to get control of themselves, we are stuck living with that person all the time. You think you’re sick of it? You can’t even imagine. And you do get sick of it. That’s natural. It isn’t healthy to be depressed. It isn’t normal. Nobody wants to feel like that and even empathizing with someone going through it is exhausting. So first, forgive yourself for feeling aggravated by your loved one. Then, please please stay patient. . .
When it feels like you’ve tried everything you can for them and nothing has worked, be patient. When you’re ready to throw up your hands and give up because you’re obviously not helping, be patient. Don’t ever doubt that noticed or unnoticed your efforts make a difference. I like to say that the keys to surviving depression are love and responsibility. . . Being depressed is incredibly lonely. Love is what pulls us into the human family. All those acts of love from all those caring people kept me going. I was clinging to hope by my fingernails. It was so easy to disappear into my own head, and my own room. Each time someone reached out and touched my life they were keeping up my connections to the rest of the world. And this is the greatest help you can be. Don’t let your loved one disappear. Don’t let them think they’re pain is unnoticed. Don’t talk about their pain non stop. Just keep checking in.
Note from Ruby: I have put my own emphasis on a few sentences in the first paragraph, because they resonated so very deeply with me.
Read the rest of the story! Visit Love is Patient, Depression Part III | The Unrepeatables.