This is something I’ve been wanting to write for a while now…
My article ‘Why Men Kill Themselves’ reached over half a million people and is still to date my most popular article on the blog.
But one thing that took me by surprise was the amount of women (and men) who emailed me explaining how it helped them understand their partners condition.
It helped them see depression and suicidal thoughts through their eyes.
It’s a horrible place to be in when you’re depressed but it’s also a tough situation when you’re dealing with someone who is depressed.
So what can you do to help you whilst you still help them?
Dealing With Someone Who Is Depressed
This is someone you love.
Whether it be a brother, a husband, a boyfriend, a Father.
This is someone you’d do anything for but their depression has put extreme strain on the relationship.
How many more events can you miss because “they didn’t feel like it”?
How many more mornings can you spend with them struggling to get out of bed?
You’re surely fed up with the daily self pity, the complaining and the thought of them batting away every positive thing you say?
This is someone who at first gave you everything you could imagine.
They made you happy, they made you feel alive but behind that ‘mask’ lay hidden secrets that would later resurface.
Has the relationship been a lie? Were they ever the person you once knew or were they always so unhappy and miserable?
That thought alone is something that hits you hard.
Were all of the good memories bullsh*t?
How long do you stick by them?
How do you best support them through their depression?
How do you make yourself feel good again?
I’m going to try and answer it from a personal perspective in this article.
I ‘Thought’ I Failed
If you’re not a regular reader or follower of the blog you may not know my Dad died from Suicide.
It was back in 2009 and that day changed my life forever.
There were no warning signs at all.
My Dad’s depression hit him hard and within 2 weeks of falling into depression (well at least admitting it) he attempted to take his own life.
Unsuccessful he went through 6 months of treatment before taking his own life in March 2009.
Those 6 months honestly seemed like the longest 6 months of my life.
So much so I really can’t imagine the strain, the unhappiness and the worry I’d endure if that 6 months instead lasted for 6 years.
But after it all the main emotional battle I struggled to deal with for years after losing Dad was simple…
“I could have done more”.
I seriously thought I’d failed him.
Even though I supported him (alongside my Mum, Brother and Grandparents) throughout his depression I still found myself questioning why I didn’t do more.
Why didn’t I take him back to the mental health unit the night before he died?
Why did I get annoyed at him when he didn’t get out of bed?
Why didn’t I see the warning signs years before he got depressed?
Reflecting on it now (and after dealing with those emotions) I realise I did as much as I possibly could at the time.
There was nothing I could do, say or provide him that would’ve swayed his decision.
Trying to tell your Dad, your role model, the person who taught you throughout your life what to do to overcome depression is a tough ask.
In fact telling anyone, whether it’s a husband, a brother or friend how to overcome depression is extremely difficult.
But ‘telling them’ isn’t going to help.
Supporting them is.
Here are 5 things I recommend you do to support them in the best way possible alongside ways to improve YOUR happiness.
1. Understand Depression
The issue with the majority of people who struggle with someone who is depressed is a lack of understanding.
Depression is an illness.
Depression is something that’s often hard to control.
Depression isn’t someone ‘feeling sorry for themselves’ and simply something they can snap out of.
It’s also hard to realise when someone is actually depressed or they are just having a down period.
A lot of depressed people won’t actually wallow in self pity, they don’t look for sympathy and they’re actually embarrassed by how they feel.
My Dad never once said he was depressed and hardly ever stated he ‘wanted to kill himself’ but he spent numerous days in bed, let his personal hygiene go, couldn’t function with basic tasks and for those 6 months was someone we didn’t recognise.
Understanding how the person you’re trying to support truly feels will allow you to see it through their eyes.
You know this person better than anyone.
You know when they’re out of character, they’re behaving differently and they’re struggling.
Get to know their illness, try to understand why they feel that way and support them through being a loving person rather than supporting them as a therapist.
2. Disconnect & Focus On You
This seems selfish to most people, disconnecting from the feelings of someone you love and spend time focusing on you.
But in all honesty, if you fail to support you how can you support them?
You can’t make orange juice without an orange.
It’s the same way you can’t give love if you don’t love yourself.
When you feel down yourself, when you’re struggling with low self esteem and negativity it’s hard to support someone who’s depressed.
When you feel positive, when you’re doing things you enjoy away from the relationship and you focus on you it actually provides a better avenue of support to that person in need.
It’s extremely hard to do at first.
Spending an hour or two every single day doing something you want to do, something that benefits you without thinking about them.
But in the long run it’s going to be the best thing you can do for both of you.
30 minutes with friends, a 30 minute workout, a day of eating healthier, reading a book, watching some positive YouTube videos… do what you can when you can to make YOU feel better.
It sets you up to help them feel better in the process.
3. Let Go Of Guilt & Resentment
This follows on nicely from point 2.
You need to remove all guilt and let go of anything that’s happened in the past.
When you’re trying to support someone who’s depressed we sometimes resent them.
We blame them for not being able to deal with their illness, we blame them for the things we’ve missed out on in the past because they didn’t feel up to it.
This resentment needs to be dropped.
You need to let go of anything that’s happened in the past.
It’s also important to not feel guilty if you do focus on yourself, if you do feel like you can’t support them in certain situations and if you do feel like you’re making them the way they are.
This video should help.
4. Support Them Not Their Depression
Love should always come first.
There is no word, no thing or no act that will resolve someones depression.
But supporting them through love (rather than trying to cure their depression) is the best thing you can do.
It’s often hope that helps people decide to live another day rather than taking their own life.
Hope stems from love.
Just showing them love, showing them you’re there and giving them hope (rather than trying to fix all their problems) may sway them to take action themselves.
Of course love isn’t going to cure the depression, it’s an illness.
The same way love is unlikely to cure cancer.
But that support, that hope, the ear that’s always open will help them through the darkest times.
5. Don’t Worry About Judgement
With a depressed partner we often miss out on events and lose friends/family because of them.
Friend groups may stop inviting you because they don’t know how to deal or act around depression.
I’d advise two words here (hint: F Them) but I know it’s more difficult than that.
Mental health surrounds everyone today. Head to a local coffee shop (where I’m writing this right now) and look around.
1 in 4 people around you will be depressed.
That’s not forgetting the people who may be feeling anxious right now in that social situation, the people worrying what others think, the people going through relationship breakdowns, money worries, over or under eating and in general feeling down about themselves.
If your so called friends or family withdraw themselves because of depression it’s a reflection on them not you/the person depressed.
No energy needs to be spent on these people.
It’s draining enough having to deal with your own issues alongside supporting someone depressed.
You don’t need to waste more energy trying to please others.
The real friends will arise in moments like this. Real friends will support you.
Don’t worry about people judging you or the person depressed. Their opinions mean nothing.
This video should help.
There’s Always Hope
It’s a tough situation to be in.
I’ve helped people overcome depression, I’ve suffered it with myself and also had family/friends who’ve suffered with depression.
It really can be draining.
But focusing on you, supporting them through love and letting go of any resentment or guilt will make things better.
Consistency is key.
Show up everyday with this attitude and things will get better for you (and them).
Think this article will help someone? Give it a share.
Want further support? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Anything to add? Feel free to comment below.