This post will probably be the hardest for me to write. When I relaunched my site, I agreed to be more open with my readers. I promised I wouldn't sugarcoat things like the famous bloggers do these days. So I'd like to finally admit that I have suffered with depression since I started college. That is 3.5 years of inconsistent anxiety, random bouts of sadness, and many days of not even leaving my room or apartment.
Even though I'm still suffering every now and then, I wouldn't have been able to make it through these experiences without my immediate family...and the few, true friends I do have. I say 'few' because I've lost many friends since the start of my depression. People take it personally when you don't want to hang out every weekend. Instead of asking if anything is wrong, they assume you're being boring and/or fake. Eventually, the contact ends.
I don't want anyone else to lose friends and miss out on experiences like I have. So, I came up with three small strategies to inform my readers on how to help someone who currently suffers with depression and/or anxiety. Here goes:
1. Always invite them to outings/events, even if you think they will decline.
Even though someone may feel down, it does not mean that they want to feel left out. I'd rather tell my friends, "Not this time," and see them have a great time. However, if I see them on Snapchat having fun without giving me an invite, it is more likely to trigger my depression. Let your friend or family member know that you are willing to just stop and see them if going out is too much for them. It really helps tremendously.
2. Don't tell them that they aren't depressed. Don't tell them to "Get over it."
Of course "Work harder!" or "Suck it up!" sounds encouraging to someone who is emotionally stable and actually happy most of the time. But to a person suffering with depression, it sounds like you're trying to tell them that their feelings aren't valid. Let them know that it's ok to feel inadequate, and that there are solutions. Listen to their feelings, even if they can't express them in detail. Don't try to fix them, but don't dismiss them either. Just be there.
3. Learn to think on their 'level'.
This step can not be done without effectively utilizing steps 1 and 2. By thinking on your loved one's level, you help them AND yourself. If you think that they may have been in the house too long, and you want them to feel better, invite them to things you know that they'd never turn down. For example, if your best friend is a foodie, ask them to go to a new restaurant with you. If you know your cousin loves comedy movies, then take them to go see "Trainwreck"...or "Straight Outta Compton"...whichever you prefer. There's nothing better than good food and a lot of laughs.
Those are just a few steps, but having a healthy relationship with someone who has depression is always a process. There's never enough 'steps' that you can take in order to help. Also remember to never take thoughts or mentions of suicide lightly. If you ever hear of someone wanting to kill themselves, make sure they seek immediate help and medical attention. Thanks for reading, as this subject is near and dear to my heart.
Read or weep,