6 Ways To Love A Person With Depression
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What is the difference between being able to say "I'm feeling depressed" as opposed to saying "I have depression"? Well, the big difference between those statements is the key word, "feeling". Many of us have never been depressed. Sure we've all experienced our share of crazy and bad times to an extent. But as sad as things may seem at that point, we are very fortunate to be able to say "I'm FEELING depressed". Some folks aren't as lucky.
The occurrence of depression can sometimes "just happen" without rhyme or reason. This is a common mistaken belief about depression - you don't have to have a horrible home life, a terrible experience or witness the death of a loved one to become depressed. If you're getting to know someone who's depressed, you may have no idea what you're getting into. It can be very traumatic and nothing about the situation is laughable. Loving someone with depression is even harder. But as hard as it is, your loved one needs you. When you get past the worst part of it, your acceptance and help through that time will mean more to them than you will ever imagine.
1. Maintain Perspective. First, remember that depression is an illness and your loved one isn't simply "sad". We are not inside their depressed minds so we can't understand why they do the things they do. We can't understand why they won't listen to reason, and they often don't have the ability to share why. Depression eliminates their ability to have friends and crushes their social life. Depression makes everything more difficult, more stressful and makes them always doubt themselves. Depression takes full control of their life, to the point where it's easier not want to feel anything.
2. Don't Take It Personally. Second, we can't take their depression personally - always keep in mind that they are not depressed because of you. Don't ever wonder if you did something to make your loved one depressed. Let this go!
3. Don't "FIX" Them. Third, they're experiencing a complete lack of emotion, and you can't fix it for them. All you can do is just be there for them - Be present and remind them that this is temporary and that there's a light out there. Listen and validate their feelings, but don't try to analyze and explain them or cheer them up. Don't offer opinions or advice. Just act normal and be supportive.
4. Be With Them. Fourth, encourage them to express any of their emotions. Often, when people start taking the long road up out of depression, their emotions come back to them in strange ways. Some people's light crying actually escalates into a complete break down with heavy sobbing. If this happens, try to comfort them. Some people get the silly happiness that seems incredibly fake. Encourage this carefully because it can switch back quickly. Many people express anger because it seems to be the easiest way to vent the months and months of non-feeling. They will get angry at anything - you, the pet or even their shoes. The strangest and sometimes smallest things will set them off. Encourage it because by getting angry, they finally have a way to let their frustrations out.
5. Take Care of Yourself. Fifth, because loving someone with depression can be quite draining for you, be mindful to not stop taking care of yourself. You can not sacrifice yourself, so keep focusing on your goals and dreams. Do not feel like a horrible person by bragging about your new promotion or getting some fresh air by going out with friends. Don't feel like you should hide it from your loved one or downplay your accomplishments, because it seems like a smack in the face to them. Your success and happiness might remind them of what they're lacking and they will still be happy for you. Find a healthy way to get your stress out because sometimes you're going to cry. You are going to feel pain and you won't always be able to handle it. You may feel like you need to hide it from your loved one. Don't. Express to them that this experience is hard, but you're in it with them.
6. Conserve Your Energies. Finally, be patient because depression is a sucker. Just as a vacuum cleaner sucks up all the dirt from your carpet, depression sucks up all the life out of everything. You need to be careful to not let it suck the life out of you! Read and learn as much information as you can about it. It is often an amazing and humbling experience to uncover how ignorant and misinformed we are about depression.
- Jeff Stein
Literally, D. (n.d.). Loving Someone With Depression. Retrieved January 14, 2015, from http://wwwhuffingtonpostcom/literally-darling/loving-someone-with-depression_b_4002503.html