If a loved one or someone you know is struggling with depression and/or a mental illness, chances are that you may feel confused and frustrated yourself. You may feel like the silent approach works best or you feel that you have to be so careful in your wording so as not to upset them.
Depression/Mental Illness is an isolating and insidious disorder which has the ability to sabotage relationships in general if you are not careful. In many cultures, depression and mental illness is viewed as a “weakness” or personality flaw issue. So many who suffer do not reach out for help or assistance that they truly need.
But your support is significant! Here are a few strategies that are valuable:
Don’t judge or criticize Words can have a powerful impact on another. There are many statements that just do not work such as” I think this is all in your head” ” “Get over it”
Avoid the tough love approach Many people think that being tough on their loved one of friend will inspire positive change. That is not the truth. Becoming impatient, pushing their boundaries, being callous or giving ultimatums is useless and hurtful. It is as harmful as pushing away or not helping someone who has cancer, lupus or any illness for that matter. If you feel that you can offer guidance and wisdom, please do so in a loving manner. As in “What can we do to help you feel better?”
Don’t minimize their pain A statement such as ” Why do you let every little thing bother you?” can shame a person with depression/mental illness. It invalidates what they are experiencing. There is a quote” Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today”
Small gestures A phone call can truly brighten someone’s day. Even a text message. Now there are E-cards, video chat etc. Even gifts can show how much you care. Did you notice that your loved one or friend could use a toaster or a live plant to brighten up their home environment? Your expression shows a loving connection and also proves that you are willing to be that beacon of light through their dark times.
Be Patient This has to be one of the most important aspects in being supportive. Letting them know that it doesn’t matter how long it takes or the challenges that may arise, you will be a constant help. Reassure them that as long as they are fully dedicated to progression and recovery, they can always count on your unwavering support and unconditional love.