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Same S*** Different Day: Supporting Someone with Depression

Mental health media constantly tells those with illness to talk with someone.

This is an excerpt from https://depression.org.nz/get-better/

Firstly, that is easier said than done.

But secondly, if you are going to support someone with depression, and be there to listen, be prepared for the following.

1. Self Centred Tendencies

Most of what gets us into dark holes are centred around self. It will sound selfish and completely self absorbed. Deal with it.

2. Self Doubt

We doubt ourselves. We will put ourselves down and be the first to tell you how pathetic and useless we are.

3. Problems with No Solutions

The problems we face are often complex and have many levels of deep issues and very rarely have answers. Don’t try and fix the problem. Just listen. Support. Encourage. Show an interest by trying to understand. That’s all you need to do.

4. Repetitive

Get ready for a case of deja vu. Often what goes around our heads in the dark times will be a case of the Same S***, Different Day. And often what gets us into the dark times are reminders and triggers of those things. So that’s what we need to process and talk about. It will get boring for you. But don’t ever say anything about it. Please. We know we’ve told you before. We know we sound lame and obsessive and believe me, we don’t want to. But you asked how it was going, and if we trusted you tell you the first time, then we’re going to have to tell you again. Don’t say “I still don’t know what to do”. See Number 3. Just listen. Say the same responses you said last time. We don’t need anything new. We just need you to listen, and to give the same support that got us telling you the problem in the first place.

5. Repetitive

Did I mention this?
The issue that was real for us yesterday will very much be real for us again today. Don’t dismiss it just because you know it already and have heard it all before. Doing so just sends us the message that you don’t actually care any more and that we’ve become a burden.

I found this come through on my Twitter feed around the same time I began feeling the need to write this blog post. Obviously this is something many people are noticing.

So please – listen. It helps, even if you don’t think it does.

And please – don’t stop listening. If you stop listening then it adds to the sense of rejection, failure and loneliness that we’re already too familiar with. It also makes it harder to talk with the next person who might want to offer their support.

Lastly, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done so far to help someone else. And thank you for all you’ll do to support us, even if it is just listening one more time.

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I’m always here for you: Supporting Someone with Depression

If you’re going to say someone with depression

“I’m always here for you”

then you’d better mean it. And you’d better mean all of it.

You’d better mean the words “always here“. Not that you’ll be there every passing minute of every single day – we understand that you have a life to live as well… But always in the sense of you’ll be there for us tomorrow, and the next day, into next week, next year, and the year after. Always. Because while it’s easy for you to say, it becomes something that we will hold onto like it’s the last hope we have on this earth. And it often is.

You’d better mean the words “for you“, because we need someone in our corner. We need someone in our corner, because often, by the time we need you, we’re not even in our corner fighting for ourselves anymore. We’ve already rejected our self worth, and we don’t need you taking offence at things we might say in the moment when despair has set in. We’re already offended enough at ourselves. We don’t need you to betray us; we’ve already betrayed ourselves. Often we can lash out at anyone who is prepared to listen, and that’s not an attack at our support people; it’s just that it becomes an outlet for the frustration and that can be taken out on those closest to us.

This doesn’t mean we get free reign and take you for granted, or a free pass to be offensive. It just means that in those moments when we hate ourselves so much that we give up and lash out with words to anyone who listens, that’s when we need the most support. It’s because we’re hurting, we don’t care anymore, and we take it out on those who we want to care. Most of us, if we’re lucky to make it through the darkest of times, will be incredibly thankful and equally apologetic in due course if you’ll give us the chance. But giving up on us when we’ve already given up; Getting offended when we’ve offended ourselves well before you came along, is not “being there for us“.

You need to put yourself to one side just for the moment and help us to stand on our own feet again no matter how hard it gets. If it’s hard for you, imagine how hard it is for us. And now imagine how hard it is for us trying to do that on our own.

That’s when people give up.

So please, before you say “I’m always here for you” please consider if you mean it, and mean all of it. Can you stand by those words through thick and thin? Can you stand by those words for as long as we need you to, not just for as long as you can? Because there is nothing worse to someone with depression than having those words said to you and then not being lived up to. In those darkest of times, in the depths of a depressive episode, those words will go around and around our heads and we will come to resent you, hate you, and be hurt by you when you’re no longer there. We will wonder “Well, where are you now?” We end up in a deeper and darker hole of rejection as we reflect on the friendship we once had with someone who said they’d always be there. The trust we once had is now gone, along with you, and has ruined our hope in others being able to help us either.

So say “I’m here for you.” Mean it.

Say “I’m always here for you.” But mean it.