Earlier this week I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor in tears. I wasn’t there for me, and I wasn’t alone. Instead, it was to comfort someone close to me who was telling herself “I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore”. Do you understand how heart breaking that is? Her head hung low and when I tried to hold it up the glaze over her eyes told me that this was not her – that some ugly demon was tormenting her mind and she couldn’t control it.
A few days later I found her sitting on my couch. I could tell that she was pretty sad. As I watched her, she started to tear up. I asked if she was okay and if she needed to take her medication. She opened her eyes and burst into tears. She was asleep and in her dreams she was being told to kill herself because she is weak.
How scary and how absolutely heart breaking it is to see someone, especially someone you love and care about, in that position.
This is someone suffering with depression. This is someone who feels like they have been ignored for so long. Someone who felt like no one was listening to them. Someone who tried to talk to people, but no one was there. And because they were feeling so alone, they thought it wouldn’t matter if they were gone.
Well that made me feel crappy. This isn’t about me, but what kind of person am I for letting this go on for so long without noticing or doing anything about it? Depression has always been one of those things that other people go through. Not me. And not people I know. It was something I thought only the people on the ads go through. My goodness, how silly I have been. Depression is so real. It affects normal people in different ways. What got me was that depressed people can be happy. After I found out this person had depression, I hung out with her for a little bit and she was laughing and dancing and acting silly and I thought “nah, she can’t. She’s way too happy right now”. But sometimes depression hits randomly. Sometimes a person can be happy and having fun, and then suddenly they’re sad and in an ugly, dark place. Depression doesn’t have to be a 24/7 mood. It can come and go. The happiest people can be depressed and have their moments.
It’s so strange because as soon as I found out about this, all of a sudden I was seeing or hearing about depression everywhere. I went to church and the Relief Society lesson was on depression. The following Sunday a lady gave a talk in sacrament on it. And later that evening a video popped up on my newsfeed of a friend who had depression also. It’s insane how it all came at once. I knew nothing about depression before this. But I’m making an effort to learn a lot more about it. When I read all the symptoms I thought “yes. Everything. Yes. This is all her”. It was hard to accept that this was happening to someone I cared about and it was hard seeing her in those situations. So I thought “how can I help?”
HOW CAN WE HELP SOMEONE WHO IS SUFFERING WITH DEPRESSION?
Everyone is different so I guess how we approach the situation with each person is different.Here are 5 suggestions that I have found to help someone with depression:
- LISTEN. As I sat there I waited for her to be ready to tell me what was going on. I had to ask a few questions but once she realized I was really listening, she trusted me. She opened up and told me everything. I could tell that it hurt for her to say it but the relief on her face was worth it. It was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, a weight that she had been carrying alone for far too long. To have someone to talk to openly was something she had yearned for for a very long time. She just needed someone who would listen. Sometimes not saying anything in return is better. Adding your 2 cents or giving your opinion may not always work. You may not even know what to say. Just listen.
- ASK QUESTIONS. In this situation I knew it would be easier for her if I asked questions so she wouldn’t have to say it out loud. I asked questions like “how long have you been feeling this way?” “Is it because of this?” “Did this happen?” etc. I was basically providing the answers and she would confirm it and elaborate on how it affected her. It was easier for her if I did this because they were things she had never talked to anyone about before, and I’m not sure she would have told anyone had I not asked her about it.
- DON’T JUDGE. Pretty self-explanatory. In a situation like this, being judgmental is quite possibly the last thing you should do. Don’t look at them or treat them any different just because they have depression. Don’t ask questions like “why would you do that?” “what’s wrong with you?” “why are you feeling like this?” Depression occurs because of a chemical imbalance in the brain. You can’t explain why you are feeling that way. There is no reason for it.
- FOLLOW UP. I feel like it’s important to always do a follow up call after you’ve talked to them. Just to let them know that you are there for them and that you are willing to help and there to listen. Following up can reassure them that you haven’t forgotten and that you are concerned about them. It’s just a phone call or a message and can make the world of a difference.
- BE CARING BUT NOT OVERBEARING. It is hard to find the line between caring and being overbearing. Sometimes you may feel like you need to be with them all the time and constantly make sure they’re okay. But how do you know if it’s too much? How do you know when to give them space and when to be with them? I honestly don’t know the answer to this so if you do then let me know! Haha.
Just remember that these are suggestions that I have found helpful in the situation I am in with this particular person. Everyone is different so some of these may not be helpful to someone you know. But I hope it helps at least one person.
I don’t have the answers for you. I don’t know how to combat this illness. But I do know that being there for somebody will almost always help. If I could do things differently, if I could take back time, I would have been a better human and taken notice. Because maybe if I had been a listening ear long ago, then we wouldn’t be in this situation now. But there is so much to learn from this experience. How can I help to prevent this from happening to someone else? And what good can come from this experience? We are strong enough to get through challenges like this. We were built for it. There is no challenge we can’t overcome. We just need to believe in ourselves.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, talk to someone. It’s the best thing you can do. We have found some great information from these websites:
There are people out there who really care and who are willing to help.