When someone you love has depression

Often when speaking with someone who suffers depression they comment that those they love ‘just don’t understand’. The sufferer struggles then with feeling as if they have failed the people that they love and therefore they metaphorically beat themselves up about it and sink further into the depressive state.
I guess when you are on the outside looking in, you have no comprehension of why the person you love is feeling the way they do. After all, they have every reason to be happy – so why aren’t they?I wish there were an easy answer to that. However there isn’t.
Well meaning words such as ‘snap out of it’ or ‘it’s not as bad as you think’ don’t really carry much weight apart from making the depressed person feel worse. Please don’t tell them to ‘snap out of it’ because if they could, they would and they are feeling bad enough without feeling like a failure for not being able to snap out of their depressive state.

I know how it feels to be on the outside looking in.
It’s scary.
You want to help the person you love.
You want to fix them.
But the only person who can ‘fix’ the mind of a person who is depressed is themselves.
Sure, medication (if it’s the right one) can help but it’s not the solution.Therapy can help but once again, it is not the solution.
Depression can only be beaten when the person who is depressed manages to control their own thoughts and feelings.
And this is not always easy.
It’s not easy to watch either.

They may shut you out.
Please don’t take offense at this as they don’t mean to hurt you. They just believe that you don’t need to know them when they are not at their best.
They may harbour thoughts of ending their lives because they cannot see how their presence has any positive effect on anyone. They might actually feel that everyone would be better off without them. That’s not the real them talking though. That’s the ‘depression goggles’ they are wearing doing the talking.
These goggles distort their view of the world and make it seem much bleaker than it really is.
Remind your loved one that you love them. Tell them that your life is richer for knowing and loving them.
It might not sink in right away but in time it will.

When someone you love is depressed, they see a world stripped of joy.
They need to learn that joy is still there and it is theirs if they want it.
Encourage them to seek help.
Encourage them to talk.
Don’t offer them advice (unless you have been there yourself and know what they are going through and then only if they are open to it).
Listen without judgement. Sometimes what they say may be wildly distorted but it is their reality right now.
Encourage them to eat well.
Encourage them to sit outside in the sunshine.
Encourage them to come for a short walk – even if it just to the end of the driveway and back.
Let them know that you are always there for them.
Reassure them that they aren’t doing this on their own.
Because that is all you can do.

When someone you love has depression, your heart aches. You want to put your arms around them and make it all go away for them.
It hurts you to see them suffer each day.
You may find that you tread on eggshells.
But know that deep down that person loves you.
Really loves you.
When someone you love has depression you may need to educate yourself on what depression actually is. It may require a whole new way of thinking in order to understand the person you love. But you will do it because you love that person and you want to see them whole and well again.
The image in your mind of your loved one as they were will keep you going.

When someone you love has depression, you need to be able to talk as well. Find someone you can trust. Or write in your journal.
When someone you love has depression all you can do is be there.
And you can’t be there for them if you are having difficulty in dealing with what you feel yourself.

When someone you love has depression you begin a whole new journey.

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55 thoughts on “When someone you love has depression

  1. My friend has schizophrenia.With time,her illness progresses.She’s not the woman she used to be.I watch her mind slowly fade away,and there’s nothing i can do to help her.She refuses her medication.She’s convinced she’s ok,and everyone who tells her otherwise is betraying her,including me.What should i do?

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    1. I’m sorry Laura that this is happening. (I’m also sorry that I just found your comment in the spam folder).
      It’s so difficult to see someone you love suffering but ultimately she is the one that needs to make the decisions. I think the only thing you can do it let her know that you will be there for her.

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    2. Laura my youngest son had depression and bipolar (untreated). Jaie had always struggled with his concentration and things most of us took for granted. We never knew he had severe depression until it was too late. And Laura unless they acknowledge they need help, there is little anyone else can do except remind them that they’re loved and have people who are there for them.
      I recall many times over the years, telling my boy he needed to see a counsellor, just for his anger issues alone, but also so he could speak freely to someone. Anyone.
      Good luck with your friend. I hope you’re able to find a way through this with her.
      Sadly my son lost his fight. But we, his family, will fight on for him to support others.
      Stay safe …
      Suzjones thank you for being one of the many people who are fighting to bring depression and it’s impact, into the open. Fight the good fight!!!

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  2. You said it far better than I have. If my husband would simply hold my hand, instead of asking “what’s your problem”–because why do I have to explain it every day–the touch of his hand would help me to see outside of my torture. We have to want to get better, and it takes a lot of work to do so–and we can’t do it alone. I’m thinking of you Sue, and sending my best wishes to your son. I’m sending out my positive ju-ju for you to have the strength to be there for him.

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  3. This is important. Thanks for posting it. I do want to make one comment, though. Therapy definitely helps because it does exactly what you say — helps the sufferer find the way out of it. And therapeutic help is much more long-lasting that drugs. On the other hand, medication can help the person to feel good enough, sleep well enough, to find the path. But, as always, consumer beware. Be sure you have a therapist who has a reputation for being effective.

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    1. I think it all comes down to the person though Mona. They are the only ones who can pull themselves out of the pit they are in. Therapy gives you the tools and medication (if it is the right one) can put you in the right headspace though.

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      1. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but that is exactly my goal in working with clients, to help them find their inner strength. Then they don’t feel like they are pulling themselves out of it as if they are outside themselves. Rather, they are freeing themselves from within. They feel like they are happily free (and also aware that they may get depressed again, but with the knowledge it won’t last.) I don’t usually approve of medication, but sometimes it helps provide the strength to do the hard work of finding one’s own inner strength. That’s why I have two major ways of referring to my practice. (1) Forgiveness Options, and (2) Let Yourself Grow.

        I don’t mean to make it sound easy. It is extremely painful, and it’s important to have faith in oneself that it will work.

        Bottom line, I think we are both saying the same thing. I was only reacting to the suggestion that therapy can’t do it. I believe it can be of tremendous help

        p.s. I have the memory and effect of my own two year struggle with being in therapy to help me “get” it. I remember telling my therapist at the end that it felt like we’d been pulling out barbed wire a little at t time — terribly painful, but oh what ease when it’s out. Like suddenly I was flexible all over.

        My regret is that insurance doesn’t allow time to really do it. Notice my two years.

        I think after I post this, I’m going to be sorry for saying too much. I don’t want to be preachy. But I do care so much for the issue and for what I do.

        And I’m so glad for your postings.

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        1. Mona, I possibly could have worded that better. I’m sorry. The last thing I wanted to do was cause offense. What I meant is that therapy and medication aren’t the total solution. What it comes down to is a person’s willingness to put the strategies from therapy into practice and to make it work in their lives.
          It is a struggle to get there I agree.
          I’m glad you like my postings. I appreciate the time you took to reply to it. 🙂

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          1. Oh my goodness. I was totally not offended. I was delighted with what you said and that you said it. I just can’t help feeling strongly about the topic. Yes, nothing can happen, even in therapy, if the person isn’t ready to work on it. I so totally agree that one can’t rely on medication to do it for one.

            And I love having this conversation with you

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  4. You are right on so many points. Most of all, we can’t help them overcome their depression. Yes, we can be there for them (if they’ll allow us to be) but overcoming it is something that they must choose on their own. It’s hard to watch though. It makes a person feel so helpless.

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  5. Great job on a topic both important & not very widely understood, sadly. You have helped some people, I’d guess. I know depression inside and out, literally: have it sometimes, treat it a whole lot more. I’ve found a few ideas have had above average traction and have been comforting:
    Depression distorts your thinking. It makes everything seem dark and hopeless, and it especially darkens your view of yourself. You’re bad, you’re shameful and weak, you’re hurting everyone who knows you by your existence, you’re letting them down. It will never, ever get better. Everyone would be better off without you… hence suicide. It makes perfect sense given those thoughts, which I promise you can be extrmemely convincing and immune to others’ feedback. I offer these symptoms, ask if they seem familiar – they usually do. I point out three things: such distortion is part of depression and quite innacurate. Depression remains quite treatable and usually temporary. It takes time, sadly, so if it takes time, there we are. We keep people safe and supported as best we can, and give them that time, so that what could end in tragedy instead ends in recovery. Not forever, possibly, but for now.

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment on my post. I too have suffered/continue to suffer on and off from depression. Whilst it is treatable I feel that it never really goes away. It becomes manageable but not curable.
      It really is something we learn to live with day by day.
      I hope and pray that my words will help someone suffering depression or enlighten those who know someone suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Big Red Carpet Nursing and commented:
    Great job on a topic both important & not very widely understood, sadly. You have helped some people, I’d guess. I know depression inside and out, literally: have it sometimes, treat it a whole lot more. I’ve found a few ideas have had above average traction and have been comforting:
    Depression distorts your thinking. It makes everything seem dark and hopeless, and it especially darkens your view of yourself. You’re bad, you’re shameful and weak, you’re hurting everyone who knows you by your existence, you’re letting them down. It will never, ever get better. Everyone would be better off without you… hence suicide. It makes perfect sense given those thoughts, which I promise you can be extrmemely convincing and immune to others’ feedback. I offer these symptoms, ask if they seem familiar – they usually do. I point out three things: such distortion is part of depression and quite innacurate. Depression remains quite treatable and usually temporary. It takes time, sadly, so if it takes time, there we are. We keep people safe and supported as best we can, and give them that time, so that what could end in tragedy instead ends in recovery. Not forever, possibly, but for now.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on thehappyhope and commented:
    Found this gem of a post. That “metaphorically beat themselves up about it” part resonates with me. I know that it’s not my fault I have (or had) depression, but when I’m down, it just feels like I’m a burden to everyone around me. People who can accept me the way I am are far and few in between, but when I do find them, I remember them always and hold them dear in my heart.

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