Living with depression is not easy, and sometimes loving someone with depression isn’t either.
There are days when it can be very difficult and confusing – leaving you feeling clueless and hopeless.
Days where you feel so helpless for not being able to shelter them from the pain.
Days where you feel so stupid because no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to find the right words to make them feel better.
The right words to let them know that they’re not alone.
I know those days all too well not because I have lived them but because I see them.
I see them lived by the people that I love.
Struggle, confusion, helplessness – those are what I frequently see through their eyes.
Loving someone who is going through depression is not easy.
It takes more patience, a whole lot of understanding and a bucket full of love – but I tell you, the efforts that you put in to reach out to them is more than worth it.
It can save a life – their life.
I have always shared the things that I do to cope with depression or how to make it more bearable.
Today, it’s different. Today, I’m writing directly to those people loving someone who is experiencing depression.
I’ll be sharing with you 5 Small but Meaningful Things to Do to support someone with depression.
These are just small things but they certainly have made a huge impact on me.
It makes my journey more bearable and a little less cold.
And hopefully, it will do the same for them too.
Be open to talk about it
The thing that I realized about living with depression is, most people are pretending that they care.
Most people will tell you that they’re willing to listen. That they want to talk about it.
But the second that I tell them what I really feel, everything that’s going through my mind (dark thoughts included) they freeze and then they avoid talking about it again.
The more that you do this to us, the more obligated we feel to just hide what we really feel.
The more obligated we are to put on yet another facade. The more we mask our pain with smiles and laughter.
And it just makes us feel worse.
So, if you really care and love them, be open to really talk about it with them.
Stop showing them that you are afraid every time they tell you how they really feel.
The more open you are to talk about this with them, the more comfortable they are to share everything with you.
This lessens the burden that they feel and it reminds us that we are not alone on this journey.
Avoid offering advice – Just Listen.
When someone shares with us their problems, the things they’re going through, our normal response would be offering them advice.
And that’s great! But it just doesn’t work for us.
Oftentimes, it just makes me feel insulted. It makes me feel that my feelings are not being heard.
Doing this makes me feel that somehow you are minimizing my pain and diminishing my feelings.
We don’t need you to tell us what to do; we just want you to listen.
Just listen and validate what they feel. They don’t need you to offer any advice or even recite positive affirmations.
They don’t need to hear any explanations, any theories that you have for coping with depression.
Oftentimes, they just need to know that you are there and you are willing to listen and that is more than enough.
Remind them how much they mean to you
Depression is a liar.
It has a way of making us think that we are a burden, that everybody would be better off without us.
It has a way of making us feel worthless.
So, even the smallest reminder of how much we mean to you every day can make a huge impact!
Most of the time, I feel like I have nothing to live for but then they tell me how important I am to them and how much I mean to them – those words act as my reminder.
My reminder to keep on fighting. To keep going because I still have them.
Don’t forget to tell and show them how much they mean to you.
Constantly remind them of how special and important they are. Talk to them about your future plans.
The things that you want to do together, the places that you want to visit.
Make plans with them. Remind them that you want to see a future with them in your life.
Though you may not get any response or the reaction that you would want but trust me, those reminders, even the smallest one, can make a big difference to us.
It gives us hope and strength to fight it every day.
Celebrate their every win
With depression, doing even the simplest task can sometimes become too impossible.
Oftentimes, even getting out of bed for me becomes too difficult.
But when I do, one of the things that push me to try and continue to do something are the encouraging words that I get coming from the people that I love.
Those words do not only give me the strength to fight depression, it also somehow reassures me that they understand.
They understand that if I don’t do something, it’s not because I’m lazy or I don’t want to do it.
It’s because I literally can’t do it.
Their encouraging words assure me that they are with me every step of the way.
So, when they tell you the things that they have accomplished for the day, praise them.
Celebrate with them. Praise even their smallest wins.
Let them know that you are proud of the things that they have accomplished.
And if they’ve felt good about doing something, encourage them.
Just Be There
On my most difficult days, days where depression is eating me alive, the most comforting moment for me is when someone I love holds my hand and wraps their arms around me.
Even without uttering any words, I find comfort and healing in those moments.
Those moments remind me that I’m not alone. I still have them.
So, on their good days, be there for them. Celebrate their laugh, their wins.
Show them in every way possible that happy days like those can still exist.
That those good days are still possible.
On their bad days, hold their hand while they cry. Hug them when they feel paralyzed.
Tell them how much they mean to you.
Just be there for them. It makes all the difference!
I understand that sometimes loving someone with depression may make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
What’s the right thing to do? What’s the right thing to say? You’re afraid of upsetting them more.
But one thing that you should remember every effort, every single thing that you do for them is appreciated in ways you could never imagine.
It can even be a life-saver!
I am not a licensed therapist. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional to get the help you deserve.