Depression is categorised as a mood disorder which causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in life. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. If you are someone who suffers from depression then I am sure you are aware what a difficult illness it can be to live with. Many times I have heard clients with the diagnosis wish it were something visible, like a broken bone. Then those around them would better understand their needs.
If you know someone who is depressed it can be difficult to know what to do. Especially if you have never felt that way. The first step is trying to understand how they are feeling. Below is a video that captures what it can be like to live with depression.
It can be incredibly difficult to offer support to someone who doesn’t feel like it will help or like they deserve it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, here are some ways you can offer support:
Listen without judgement. If the person who’s depressed lists all the reasons they feel down don’t counteract with reasons they should feel better. Often they already don’t understand why they feel the way they do. By telling them all the reasons they should feel better is not really hearing how they are experiencing things.
Be patient. Tell them you are there any time they need you. If they don’t take you up on the offer understand that they are not doing that to hurt you.
Offer support in any way. Offer lifts, collect shopping or even do odd jobs around their house. Depression causes almost a complete lack of motivation which means lots of things don’t get done.
Understand that this isn’t a choice. If those suffering could wave a magic wand and feel better, they would. However, even knowing the many factors the can cause depression doesn’t solve the problem.
Don’t give up.
Don’t say you know what it’s like if you don’t.
Try not to push or get angry. Recommend that they talk to their GP or go see a counsellor but realise they need to make the decision for themselves.
Get support for yourself. If you are in a relationship or are a carer for someone with depression it can be draining for you to be around them. Find a way to support yourself and make sure you find a way to find joy in your life.
What anyone in this situation needs to know is that they are cared for. Do that anyway you can and you can help be the silver lining that gives this person hope.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton
— If reading this has made you realise that you may be depressed or are ready to get help then contact myself or a therapist in your area. —
I have a beautiful god-daughter who I think is one of the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful kids on the planet. After minding her I have a further appreciation of sleep and for all parents out there. Kids are wonderful teachers as they can see a world filled with joy and opportunities. I think we could all benefit from having such beliefs.
Below are some things I have learned from her and other children, they are all adding light to an often dark and cynical world.
The world is an amazing place. With fresh eyes we can appreciate so much more around us. Helicopters and airplanes are a marvel. Our imagination is an incredible tool that we rarely use for good. Every morning is a gift and we should all wake up as excited as a child because it means a new day full of possibility.
We rarely check our needs, also known as the: ‘Do you need to wee?’ principle. Kids can get so wrapped up in playing, laughing or watching cartoons that accidents can happen. As you spend your day rushing around do you ever stop and notice your needs or how you’re feeling? Take a second and close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, down into you belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that a few times then ask yourself: How am I feeling? What do I need? Take note and follow through if you can.
Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This kid only had a few mouthfuls of ice cream then stopped. I repeat, ice cream. Her body told her she was full so she stopped eating. We can get very detached from ourselves, our bodies and what they need. You can change that by trying to eat mindfully (pause between bites and appreciate flavours) then wait at least 10-20 minutes before getting a second helping.
Sometimes a hug and a kiss can make it all better. Life can be difficult at any age. Even more so when we feel alone. A hug won’t make your problems disappear but it can make them feel more manageable. Feeling connected to someone else makes the hard times easier to bear and makes us feel safe. The small child in all of us needs to feel like it will all be okay.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. From a young age being independent makes us feel strong, capable and in control. But there are times when we can’t do it alone. Try to quiet the judge in your mind, you aren’t weak for needing/wanting help, you’re human.
Bubbles are amazing. No need to elaborate.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We want to instil in children that there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong; you will learn and grow. As we get older we forget about that. So many strive for ‘perfection’ feeling that every mis-step is a failure, that we are failures. That simply is not the case. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Grieve if you need to, show yourself some compassion then move forward with new knowledge.
Make time to rest when you’re exhausted. Give yourself permission to slow down. Sometimes we all need a nap.
Sharing can be difficult. When we’re young we are taught how important it is to share. As adults with jobs and families we have to once again learn that lesson. Sharing our space and time isn’t easy and we can sometimes feel as though we are stretched too thin. That’s when we refer back to #5 and #8, share with someone your vulnerability and your need for naps.
Love and be loved. Of all the lessons we will ever learn this is of the utmost importance. I believe this is the reason we are here, to learn how to love and how to be loved. Children epitomise this as they love without condition and judgement. They do not question why others love them, they just know it to be true. I think they’re onto something.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu
With the recent suspected suicide of Robin Williams a limelight has been shone on what could have led him to do this. Which has brought attention to depression, and how without help it mentally chips away at those who suffer from it.
It’s a shame it takes the death of someone in Hollywood to draw attention to a disease in which hundreds of millions of people suffer from.
It can make you feel isolated and alone, forcing you to wear a mask. A brave face to show the world unable to share the pain that is really being felt.
There seem to be many comedians who suffer from depression themselves. Perhaps that’s because those who battle depression experience a flat affect, no emotional responses to situations or experiences. Seeing that they can make others experience joy and laughter gives them purpose. However, at the end of the day if you don’t have love for yourself the love of others means nothing.
If you are suffering from depression, get help. Although you feel alone in the darkness, you don’t have to be. Those feelings are a symptom of the disease. I had done a previous post with a focus on talking to someone when you are feeling down, you can read that here. It’s never too late to reach out, to ask for help, it could save your life.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” -Laurell K. Hamilton
When was the last time you said how you really feel?
Myself and my friend Sinead Lynch at Silver Linings have made a video looking at how the Irish and Canadians can avoid their real feelings.
Although we attempt, (please excuse my exaggerated Canadian accent) to use humour to highlight how we all can cover our true feelings. I do believe it is important to talk to someone when you are having a hard time. Life is not always easy, for many people it can seem like everyday is an uphill struggle. Sharing your internal strife with another person can sometimes help lighten the load.
And remember that animals this cute exist. That can help too.
There’s always time to talk.
“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.” – Raymond Cramer
Whether someone has received bad news, feels they did bad on an exam, is just feeling low or recently lost someone. It can be difficult to know what to say. Many of us want to ease their struggle so will say things like: ‘I’m sure it’ll be grand.’ ‘I imagine it’s not as bad as you think.’ ‘They’re in a better place.’
The problem with all three of those is that you aren’t really hearing what is being said and supporting the person who has shared it. A lot of the time there is nothing that can be said to make the other person feel better.
What they need is support. They need to know that in whatever they are feeling they are not alone.
The comic in this post was originally aimed at those with depression. However, I feel like it can be used as a great example of what we all need every now and then. Notice the person giving the support doesn’t say anything in hopes to make the other feel better. They are just there and that can be enough.
The next time someone tells you they are sad, mad, embarrassed or experiencing any of the possible combinations of human emotion. Before you decide what to say, ask them what they need and give them that. Being supportive is about helping the other person to feel better. It’s not about knowing what to say.