Suffering from depression is more than just a feeling of sadness. It affects how you think, feel and function on a daily basis. It can prevent you from working, going to school or participating in many social settings. It can hinder your ability to concentrate, or enjoy activities that once gave you great pleasure. It can interfere in your sleep and appetite, either eating or sleeping too much or too little, deeply affecting your energy level, and it can impede greatly on your relationships with your loved ones.
Trying to help a loved one suffering from depression can be extremely frustrating, stressful, challenging and exhausting to say the least, in turn causing some of the strongest bonds to become strained and/or terminated. Just like the individual who is suffering from depression, a loved one may feel helpless and discouraged in their attempts to support them. For the individual suffering from depression it can and does transpire into feelings of being a burden to their loved ones and can and does create a great deal of guilt, no matter how old or how young you are.
I have felt first hand the affects my depression has caused for my loved ones, their frustration, their sadness and their inability to “fix” me. Please know first and foremost that it is not up to you to “fix” me, you are not to blame and you are most certainly not responsible for what I am going through. I know that my depression is hurtful to you and I know how difficult it is for you to understand, let alone know how to help.
Please know that I don’t “choose” to feel this way, please know that I can’t just “snap out of it”, please know that I don’t always have a reason, please know that it is never my intent for you to take it personally, please know that it overpowers me and please know that it is a constant battle.
Please know as well that I am very much aware that “others have it worse”, please know that I am grateful for my amazingly supportive husband and that I have been blessed with 3 beautiful, healthy children and please know that I appreciate you and all your sentiments, I really, really do.
If the Stigma surrounding Mental Illness is ever going to end, it needs to start with kindness and education. When someone you love is suffering from depression or any other Mental Illness the first and most important thing someone can do is to start by educating themselves and learning how to talk about it in a thoughtful, compassionate and sensitive way. It’s not advice we may be looking for, but instead it’s wanting and needing someone to listen and offer words of encouragement and hope.
It’s okay to ask questions, in fact it’s imperative to ask questions. It’s important to be non-judgmental and patient. Show you care with words and gestures, check-in as often as you can, give hugs when needed, stop by for a visit, let them know you are there for them. Just please don’t ever devalue our feelings or desert us no matter how hard it may be. You wouldn’t desert a loved one suffering from any other debilitating and sometimes deadly illness, would you?