I know that sometimes it can feel like nothing you do matters or makes a difference to them.
That’s because loving someone with depression is not always easy. The good news is that with a few small changes you can dramatically improve your relationship with them and help them feel more loved.
Here are some tips for you to help them AND maintain balance in your own life.
First, know it’s not your fault.
Sometimes when we have a loved one with depression, we think that we are somehow to blame. This self-imposed guilt makes us feel obligated to do whatever we can for them and usually we stop addressing our own needs. This is a recipe to becoming burnt out, frustrated and eventually resentful towards them or their condition. Know that when they push people away and seclude themselves, it’s not personal.
More often than not, people with depression behave like this because:
-They feel overwhelmed and don’t have the energy to engage with anyone, not just you
-They feel like they’re a burden and don’t want to put their feelings on others
-They fear they might ruin the mood of their happy friends and family
What can you do?
When it comes to someone with depression, knowing what to say can be hard.
Although it’s always coming from a genuine and loving place, some things can actually hurt more than they help. To understand why this is you have to keep in mind that depression is more than having a bad day, it’s a mental illness. Telling someone with depression things like ‘think about the positive’, ‘just get over it’ or ‘look on the bright side’ doesn’t help and can actually make them feel worse. Since they have already tried all these things, hearing them from you can reinforce their feelings of helplessness.
So, what CAN you say?
People dealing with depression crave to be heard and understood. Rather than telling them what to do and giving advice, you will get much better results by just listening and showing support.
Try saying things like:
-I’m here to support you
-I believe in you
-I want to help you get through this
-Help me understand how you feel or what you need
-I love you
Giving them reminders that they ARE loved and supported helps to counteract the voices in their head and heart telling them otherwise.
Also, as much as it might be scary, you CAN ask how they are doing. Just make sure to avoid telling them how they should be doing. A lot of people do this by mistake because they make comparisons hoping to encourage their loved one, saying things like ‘I’ve been through the same thing’ or ‘I know someone who felt like that and they did ___, now they’re great’.
When you make comparisons like this you are sending their unconscious mind the message that something is wrong with them because they couldn’t handle it like someone else did, and you’re telling them that you aren’t really listening to how THEY feel. Let go of the comparisons and just be present.
Loving someone with depression can be hard when we think we know what they need. The key to actually helping them AND not feeling overwhelmed is simple: just listen. If you genuinely care about them try to understand how they feel and let them tell you what they need. Your support in just being there and reminding them how much you care helps more than any advice you could give.
To learn more about me and how I know so much about this, see my story at coachmatthewhayes.com/more-about-me