NOTE: This was originally posted March 2012 but I had problems re-blogging and wanted to edit it also, and so I have re-posted it. Some of you may already have viewed the original. “Oh…just noticed this is my 400th post”
My last few posts were mainly about my struggle, and concerned with the person experiencing depression, but this one is a little different. It is by no means a complete list of do’s and don’t s, only a few insights. ‘
This post is not for the person who is or has suffered from Depression, but instead to the one(s) living with that person (or someone close).
In my case the significant other people who had to live with me and therefore ‘depression’ were my husband and my three children. At least they were the ones who were in the same house as I was.
When my husband and I met we were two carefree people, for the most part. If ever there was a truism it was that we were opposites and we were attracted to each other. He was a very straightforward person and what you saw basically is what he was. I on the other hand kept a lot of my feelings inside, and brooded about things. I was very insecure and he very outgoing.
When signs of my ‘depression’ were first noticed in our marriage, he tended to withdraw, because he couldn’t understand where I was coming from. He thought that I was so complex and that I of course was too serious and that I over-thought problems or issues that arose. So he just let me be! That is not a good response.
If I could address that issue, it would be not to withdraw from someone who is depressed or having a difficult time. Take time to ask them why they are upset and then instead of dismissing their feelings, try to validate their fears or worries. I would say to tell them that while you don’t understand the depth of what they are experiencing, you would like to say or do something to make them feel better. Ask them what that might be, at that particular moment. You may be surprised if they say they just want you to hold them for a while. It may be that they might ask if you could take them out somewhere just for a different atmosphere. It may be that they might like to hear what you think their good points are and some the positive things they have done for you and your children/family…that you are still a good parent. Perhaps, if you’re up to it you could go with them to a Therapist’s appointment with them to try to understand depression better.
What they ‘don’t’ want to hear is that they are being silly, and they are over-reacting. They don’t want you to say, “Snap out of it…just stop worrying. Just think of all that you have to be grateful for” What they don’t want to see you do is ignore them or walk away from them.
When you do these things it just says…’I don’t understand and frankly I don’t care to’.
This leaves the person feeling unloved, alone and more depressed than they already were.
I went through all of this at different times in the days of my depression. I was fortunate sometimes to have a sister, brother, friend, pastor, or my mother to help offset the attitude of my husband or other people close to me. One of my children was a deep thinker as I was, and when he was older he became a source of support. He would let me voice my illogical thoughts and try to say the right things, and I appreciated that he would even listen. It is not that my other children did not love me, but they just couldn’t understand how I was feeling and didn’t know what they could do to help.
You don’t need to ‘fix’ the person…. you just need to listen and try to understand their feelings and you need to let them know you love them regardless. Try to have patience when they don’t feel better ‘overnight’. Sometimes it takes quite a while.
You don’t need to have all the answers to their questions or things that are troubling them; in fact you can’t because in many cases they might not even be able to express exactly what that is. They just know that they feel bad!
Sometimes I would receive a card or note, and it helped to just know that someone was thinking of me and in some cases praying for me.
Another important thing and maybe the most important; let them know you love them because they most likely feel that they are so ‘unlovable’ !
Having said all that, my husband did learn what it was that I needed and did try to comfort me in many ways. It took some difficult years, but with patience, love and with the cognitive therapy that I received I have become a person who feels at last that depression does not live in our house anymore. I do not have the fear of returning to the darkness that at many times in my life was a constant companion.
As I have said before, God was with me and brought me to this point in my life. Thank You Lord.