Someone going through depression can use all the help. At least that’s what you would say… But there are also things that are not helpful or have the opposite effect. In this article the most important things you can do or say that will and will not help if your boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member is going through depression. Based on my own experiences on my journey through depression.
What doesn’t help?
It makes sense that it touches you when someone close to you struggles with depression. But if you keep emphasizing how much it hurts you that I’m having such a hard time, I’ll eventually feel guilty for putting this on your plate. And I don’t want to be a burden to you, so I will withdraw further from you. Remember, this isn’t about you, it’s about the one going through the depression.
By extension, if you say you’re worried about me, I’m going to be even more worried about myself. Worrying may seem like an act of love, but it feels like an act of distrust. If you had 100% confidence in me and my process, would you be concerned? (the answer is: ‘no’).
Giving unsolicited advice
Someone going through depression is looking for a way up. But giving unsolicited advice doesn’t help. When you’re depressed, it’s very difficult to filter what makes sense and what doesn’t. Opinions of different people who contradict each other are then very complicated.
You can also give me the feeling that I don’t have enough knowledge or skills to get out of this myself, or that the path I follow with the choices I make and the help I receive is not good (enough). Unsolicited advice can make me feel like I should follow your path instead of relying on myself.
You can of course indicate that you are available for questions, support, or advice if I choose to do so myself.
Unsolicited advice often also conveys a judgment. This phase is ‘wrong’ and you should put it behind you as soon as possible. Trust me, that’s all you want when you’re depressed. But judging or suggesting that it’s time to put this behind you, that ‘happiness is a choice’, etc. doesn’t help me feel better or more hopeful, let alone practically help me get out of the pit. come. Also trivializing (‘everyone has a dip sometimes’) or starting about creative power (‘you are not a victim, choose something else’) may be meant sweetly, but it doesn’t help me any further.
What you can do to help someone who is Depressed
When you say that you have faith that I will get out of this, it helps enormously. A friend of mine wrote: ‘I wish I could say you’ve hit rock bottom now (I really hope so) but I can’t…but I know that no matter how deep you have to go, you’ll always get out of here ‘. Such statements help me connect with my own confidence in myself. It’s honest, doesn’t make promises you can’t keep (like “I’m sure you’ll feel better tomorrow”), and it’s supportive and encouraging at the same time.
Remember the saying, “A friend is one who knows the song of your soul and sings it to you when you have forgotten the words.” That’s exactly what expressing confidence does. It helps someone going through depression to find confidence in themselves again and to reconnect with the strength, wisdom, and perseverance that they know is somewhere inside, but regularly lose during this phase.
Do you still see the wisdom and strength in the person going through depression? Speak it out, keep holding up that mirror. In my most vulnerable moments, there were people who said, ‘you are so strong’ or ‘you sound so powerful despite everything’. Powerful or strong was the last thing I felt at that moment… but that mirror also helped me to reconnect with that power in myself.
When you are depressed it is increasingly difficult to connect with others. Often there are thoughts such as ‘who is waiting for me (if I feel this way)’ or the fear of being a burden to others. This can become a problem, especially if the depression lasts a little longer or becomes more severe. The natural reaction is to withdraw, while it actually helps to connect with (trusted) others.
If you let me know that I can always knock on your door, however, I feel, that’s a big straw or life buoy that you throw at me. I can then choose whether and when I want to use it, but I then feel freer to make contact if it is really difficult. That prevents isolation, which makes the depression even worse.
You can also help me by regularly ‘checking in’ and asking how I’m doing. This means I don’t have to cross the (sometimes very high) threshold to contact you.
When you’re depressed, it can be hard to keep faith in a happy ending. Remind me of the past times I’ve gone through difficult phases so that I can rebuild that confidence little by little. The longer you know me, the more examples you can give.
Have you been depressed yourself and got out of it? That also helps. If you can do it, I probably can too. Let me know what you recognize in my story, then I feel less alone. But keep listening…
No one can solve depression for someone else. You can listen. Without judgment and without advice. Ask what bothers me, what I find most difficult. Ask about my good and my bad moments. Ask about how I feel NOW. Ask about what I need, and how you can help me (even though that is sometimes a very difficult question to answer).
In any case, indicate that you’re there, that it’s okay to be depressed, and that things will really be okay in the end. If you radiate that confidence in everything you say and do, you help me to find that confidence in myself again.
When everything that wants to be seen at that moment has been said, there is often room to talk about other things. And that in turn helps to shift the senses and reconnect with life beyond depression.
In this way, listening, moving forward, being available, and supporting without judgment are the greatest gifts you can give to someone going through depression. So that eventually the light will shine again and the journey there becomes a little less lonely.
“No one said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
PS Are you depressed yourself? People are available to help you both on a regular basis (via the GP) and alternatively (acupuncture, classical homeopathy). You have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.