Dear people who love someone who is suffering from depression

So, someone you love is depressed. That sucks. I don’t think how much it sucks can be overestimated. This is hard. Really hard. And there is no ‘quick fix’.

I have experienced this situation from both sides – I have loved someone who is depressed, and I have been depressed – and I wish I had all the answers. But I don’t. I do, however, have some advice to offer.

Depression is an illness. It’s not just feeling sad. Read. Research. Be informed. The internet is your friend.

You may not always understand. That’s ok. Listen. Respond to what you’re being told. Let the person know that you love them, that you’re there for them. And follow through. Offer hugs when they’re needed, and space when it’s needed. Never force yourself into the situation. But try to be there when you can.

The person you love may do things you don’t agree with in order to cope. They may struggle with alcohol, drugs, self harm, eating normally, or any number of other issues. Try not to judge them. Encourage them to be as safe as they can be, and to work on developing healthier coping strategies. But accept that change will take time. Is anything really that bad when the alternative could be losing them entirely?

Be honest with yourself about how much you can cope with. Don’t think you have to have all the answers. There is no shame in admitting that you can’t cope with something alone. Encourage the person you love to seek help, and accept that you can’t be their only form of support. Don’t take it personally if they talk to other people sometimes. Take the opportunity to take time out, do things for yourself, have fun, and trust other people to pick up the slack.

Take care of yourself first. On an aeroplane, in the event of an emergency, they tell you to fix your own oxygen mask before helping others. You can’t help anyone if you can’t breathe. Loving a depressed person can be upsetting and frustrating. Find people to support you. If you need to talk about how you’re feeling, try to use your own support system. The person you love has a degree of understanding about how you feel, and will already feel guilty for the negative effect that their illness is having on you. They will want to help, but may not be in a position to. And adding to their guilt won’t help anyone.

And finally, if you feel can’t can’t cope at all, seriously consider removing yourself from the situation. Sometimes things are too big, and it takes a very brave person to admit that. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and don’t let anyone tell you it does.

Love from me x

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9 thoughts on “Dear people who love someone who is suffering from depression

  1. This is an excellent post!! I think 1 key thing is not being the only support for someone,you can’t be everything to 1 person and in the end being someone’s sole support network will make you ill!! Iknow when in depressed,it is helpful to have a number of people I can turn to. It helps me know I’m not an unreasonable burden. Equally it is helpful knowing I don’t have to “fix” my friend with bpd, I’m just 1 part of hersupport network of many friends, family,church and professionals.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post… and I very much agree with learning2float in terms of being part of a team. Important for *both* people involved that there is a range of supports — which likely includes other friends, family maybe, and professionals.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this post. Living with someone who has depression is so difficult. I’ve been living with my latest bout of depression for over three years now and it’s put my wife under all sorts of pressure. Pressure she didn’t sign up for when she married me. I really agree with what you wrote about being non judgemental and allowing plenty of space. I think space is the key and as you say, not putting too much pressure on yourself too.

    I wrote a blog on the subject myself a couple of months ago, do have a read: http://worldofharv.com/2015/05/06/supporting-a-partner-living-with-depression/

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  6. Thank you for sharing this. My daughter has depression and anxiety and is being treated in a psychiatric unit. She has self harmed in various ways and is still doing so. I’m trying to find out as much information as possible, to support her. Your blog has been very useful for insight. I appreciate you sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. I’m glad you found my blog helpful, that’s why I write 🙂 my step dad wants me to tell you that he knows how hard it is, but however bad things are, if you can wait it out, things always get better. make sure you’re taking care of yourself too!! x

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  7. A brilliant post.

    Absolutely agree that having a trusted support network around you so you feel less burdensome is critical.

    The awareness of how energy sapping depression “supporters” can find it is vital. It takes a lot of guts to be there for someone like me.

    And I whole heartedly agree. You are not a bad person if you can’t cope with me. Just don’t promise that you will be there and then disappear half way through the battle. That is heart breaking.

    Love your posts. Thinking of you X

    Liked by 1 person

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