2 articles Tag sadness

How to Help Someone You Love Who is Suffering from Depression

With 1 in 4 individuals living in the UK suffering from a mental illness, it is likely that someone in your family or friends group is one of those people. From depression to border-line personality disorder, there is always one recurring factor that must be remembered. Seek help. The more support within a sufferer’s life, the less pressurised they feel to wallow in their irrational shame and isolation.

By reading this article, I hope to enlighten your world with ways in which you can help those in your life coping with depression. But don’t worry if they don’t reach out to you immediately. Something with such a mind-numbing pain attached can often take the person time to understand and cope with it themselves.

Understanding Depression

The first step to caring for those you love is through understanding the illness itself. Without the knowledge of how the illness is affecting them and others, there is no real relevant way that you can help. However, as each individual has their own experience of depressive symptoms, it is advised to let them explain how they feel first. Once this has been established, then you can begin to cushion the impact for them. For example, if they feel as though they are isolated from the world and this is creating an overt sense of depression, then make them aware that you are always available for company or even a simple cup of tea.

Despite this, people with mental illnesses also tend to value their time alone to reflect and get to know themselves, so you should definitely avoid any form of smothering.  Nevertheless, with a gentle reminder that you are there for them, this can go a long way.

Another way in which you can help your loved one is through the boosting of their low self-esteem. With depression, it is almost guaranteed that the way in which they feel about themselves is fairly negative. But if you want to care for them, then reinforcing a cycle of positivity can help with this. So, if they have decided to get out of bed, or are looking more cheerful on those better days, then don’t forget to remind them of this. With the occasional complimentary comment, you can help to break their negative thought pattern, reminding them that they always have been, and of course always will be a beautiful person.

Don’t Make It All About You and Your Experiences… Just Let Them Talk

If you also suffer from depression yourself, I am sure you are aware that there is nothing worse than people smothering you with their stories of how they overcame their illness. In one way, they probably believe that by telling you about their experiences, this will automatically benefit you; however, it doesn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, each individual person suffers from their own specific depressive symptoms, meaning that just because you’ve overcome your illness, by following the same path they can too. This is a common mistake and can often make those being talked at feel insignificant and overwhelmed.

The first step to success in this area is to make it obvious that you are available to talk. By extending this invitation, this then provides them with the opportunity to accept whenever they feel comfortable and ready to open up. As the first discussion can be overpowering, then you must be prepared for tears and snotty messes; but once they come to terms with their depression, and accept that they need help, then it can only go up from there. It is also important to remember that often when people discuss their mental illness, they feel ashamed of their ‘weaknesses’. However, as a stigma that needs to be destroyed, you must make them aware that it is okay to feel down. It is the recovery and learning to love yourself that is important. By doing so, you’ll reinforce this significantly important mantra: Your mental illness does not define you!

Every Little Helps

A further method support is to reinforce the importance of maintaining their typical everyday schedule. When suffering from depression, an ordinary routine can often become overwhelming, causing isolation and sadness to consume them as you feel as though they cannot leave their bed. This can often lead to difficulties regarding money, especially if they convince themselves that going into work is not an option. However, by contacting advice services such as Mental Health and Money Advice, professionals who understand will be able to create a plan of guidance and offer you services into how to help someone with poor mental health with their expenses.

By following the aide of this article, I hope that you will be able to alleviate the suffering of your loved one. As such a common problem in the UK, I know how consuming mental illnesses can be. However, with your support, you should be able to encourage your family member or friend to open up and seek the support that they so desperately deserve.

Guilt, Grief and SSRI’s.

Let me start by saying that this is one of those blog posts where I feel a bit like I’m ripping my guts out and smearing them all over the page (apologies for the rather visceral visual…). It’s very personal and there’s always that worry that someone will take what you say and use it against you. In short; be gentle with me.

As you can imagine, the past few weeks have been something of an emotional rollercoaster for myself and my family. Grief is an unfathomable creature, making you feel one way and then another without so much as a moments notice. I imagine I’ve been quite difficult to live with, really.

I’ve suffered most of my life with some form of anxiety or depression, remembering even as young as four or five the abject panic that set in when I was away from my Mum, the cutting out of primary school 5 minutes after I was dropped off and chasing my mum or nan up the road, begging not to be left. Anyway, the point is, I’ve dealt with it for about 20 years and have largely managed to resist taking tablets to get by. I’ve seen counsellors, been given diagnoses and had them taken away again, but I’ve always maintained that there’s no point in giving myself a false high if there’s something underlying that’s causing my issues. I’m anti-paperingoverthecracks, if you will.

A couple of days ago, Husband was listening to me pour my heart out for the millionth time, about how sad I feel, how I feel completely and utterly cheated out of the chance to get to know Lorraine better, something which I took for granted while she was alive and am completely rueing now. At her funeral, I found out she was a fan of The Only Way is Essex and Alanis Morrisette, two things we have in common that I never knew about (despite THIS post. Yes, I know, I got sucked in. What are YOU saying?!) I’m struggling to get my head around the fact that she’s no longer here, my heart actually physically aches for my Dad when I think of how devastated he must be, how he’s got to go about his daily life despite the fact that his world has been torn in two.

My family life is suffering because of my grief, and while I know this is normal, I hate the fact that I’m grumpy, snappy and prone to tears at the drop of a hat. So, I asked Husband, shall I go to the Doctors? Well, he said, you know they’ll just offer you anti-depressants. And it’s true. I don’t know if it’s my surgery or all of them, but ours seem to have a stash of pre-printed prescriptions. Anything physical; antibiotics. Anything mental; anti-depressants. It’s like a conveyor belt where you get handed one or the other, no questions asked.

So, do I take them? I came to the conclusion that it’d be largely pointless. Hear me out, this is not me casting judgement on people who DO take them. Some people’s depression genuinely does come from their body’s inability to process serotonin adequately and they need a helping hand. My ‘problem’ isn’t chemical, it’s real. I could take anti-depressants but when the time came for me to come off of them again, the ‘problem’ will still be there, Lorraine will still be gone and I’ll still miss her. Sure, they’ll give me a boost for now, but I still think I’d be better off going through the natural process and dealing with each stage of grief as it comes.

I was explaining to Husband last night that although I still feel overwhelmingly sad at times, some of that sadness is giving way to a really intense anger that was worrying me. He gave me a wry smile and told me to Google ‘stages of grief’. Step One, denial, Step Two, anger. So while I might be feeling awful at times, at the very least I know I’m normal. And that’s something to be positive about, right?

I don’t know how long it’s going to take and I feel guilty for saying I even want to feel back to normal already, like I’m doing Lorraine a disservice by not permanently grieving, but I know for a fact that it’s not what she’d want. She adored Sausage and would be gutted to think that I was making her suffer with my behaviour. So, I need to use every ounce of mental strength that I have to stop me slipping back into the mire of depression, as it can be so bloody hard to get back out of.

Wish me luck…