I have been a helpless spectator when my close friends suffered. Despaired at their pain. Grieved at their inability to function. These are feeling you would know if anyone you know suffers from or had suffered from depression. Depression is a demon that casts a gloomy shadow on the person’s life. There is no easy way out of it. Once somebody is in its grip, it will take tremendous amounts of support, help and effort to get back to normal again. These are some things I have seen first hand from their experience.
It is hard to know what to do when your loved one is going through this. So, I would like to share my thoughts.
In the time I spent with my friends I have made quite a few mistakes. The most important thing we should avoid doing is making them feel worse than they are. Even if we feel that might spur them on to do better, it must not be done. They might respond temporarily, but in the long run this is something that needs care and attention, not a guilt trip. This is a mistake I am guilty of.
It hurt to see my buddies in that state of limbo, not really doing the things they should. It is hard I know. But we need to realize that addressing and tackling the issues they face should take priority rather than academics, work or anything else. Another mistake I made was trying too hard sometimes. There are times when we try to talk to them but they don’t feel like talking. People going through depression and other issues would have phases where they are withdrawn and avoid conversation with people in general. We need to give them their space .
They will get back in touch when they feel ready to handle contact with others. We need to understand that their not wanting to talk to us isn’t really because of either of our “faults” but rather a need imposed on them due to their issues. Trying to force them to talk to you when they are not ready to will be counter productive and do neither of you any good.
There are quite a few things we should NOT say to someone who is going through depression. A few of them would be “Just get better”, “Stop making it more than it is”, ” “Why are you depressed?” . This not only destroys their confidence, but also makes them feel like it is their fault they are going through this. But the fact is , it is definitely NOT THEIR FAULT that this happened to them. Nothing we ever say should imply that. The best thing I found I could do for my friends was JUST BEING THERE FOR THEM. Although it took me time to realize it, all they wanted was to have someone by their side that they could count on. Somebody who made them felt wanted and give them the feeling that they were worth it. Different people would have different needs.
Some just need someone to be with them. Some need a person to talk to. Some would need a voice of reason. Irrespective of whether we could be what they want, your mere presence and care can go a long way in helping them overcome their issues.
Each and every one of us can help the people around us overcome their mental illnesses. If we realize that someone around us is having a tough time, just be there for them. Help them in every way you can. Learn what makes them better and show them you care. This way we can do our bit to help them in their battle. Let’s do our bit to shatter the stigma around mental health issues and make it easier for affected people to seek and get the help they need and deserve.