I have suffered from depression on and off for much of my life. Some episodes have been worse than others. But with each one, in time they passed. While I was in the midst of the depression, I thought that there was no end to the suffering. I had to tell myself throughout every day that I would get through it and that I had to keep moving. Some days this was successful, but other days I just didn’t leave my bed. For me, it was not until the correct medication combination, kicked in and brought me relief. I also participated in psychotherapy, but when depressed I either cried the whole session or was argumentative and beyond feisty with my therapist challenging nearly everything that she said.
Having said that, one would think I would know exactly what to say and do to help others who are suffering. It would just make sense based on my experience, having been there, done that, have the t-shirt and the medical bracelet. But, this is not the case.
I have a friend who has been suffering, and I missed it. I am not sure how this happened, but it’s been going on for a while and just recently did I notice what was right before my eyes. The change in personality, the quietness, the withdrawing. How did I miss this?
And now I am sitting here, seeing a friend hurting, and realizing that I am not sure what to do. How can I make it better? How can I fix it? What can I do to help their suffering? What’s this girl to do?
I go back to my episodes and try to pinpoint what worked for me. But when I really think about it, the only thing that worked for me was getting on the right medications and getting my hormones in balance post hysterectomy. This is not the case for my friend. And even if it were, that means that there is nothing that I can do. I can’t assist with medication, and if there was a concern about hormones, that is out of my realm of control as well, hell I can’t even control my own hormones, let alone someone else’s.
I have checked in with this person. Asking every day or every few days how things were going. Asking what I can do to help if anything. I have been listening and being patient. And the hardest part is I am reminding myself that I can only control what is within my control. I can not take this away from my friend. If I could, I would in a heartbeat, just as I am sure my friends and family would have taken the depression I suffered from away from me had they had the opportunity.
During the month of May, there is special attention paid to Mental Illness.
I did some research and from several sources, pulled together a list of suggestions of what a friend can do when their friend or family member is depressed. Below is the best, most complete list that I found:
- Educate Yourself About Depression and Other Mood Disorders
- Ask Questions and Dig for the Root Cause
- Help Them Identify and Cope with Sources of Stress
- Encourage Them to Seek Out a Support Group
- Remind Them That They’re Incredibly Strong
- Make Them Smile, Because Laughter Helps and Heals
- Let Them Know They Won’t Always Feel This Way
- If You Do Only One Thing, Let It Be Listening