I get it. You find out your daughter, or your spouse, or your best friend is depressed. And you have no idea how you’re supposed to act. The easiest option is probably to not talk about it too much. It’s awkward. You don’t know what to say, what not to say. So you say nothing. You offer initial support but after that you avoid the topic entirely.
I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and believe me, I am not mad or disappointed in you. We all avoid things that makes us feel uncomfortable. But if you’re reading this, you want to be different. You want to be that friend, that spouse, that parent who is there for your loved one. So first of all, thank you. Thank you for having the courage to be uncomfortable and sit with us in our pain. Here are some ideas that I have found helpful on my own depression journey.
1. Ask us how we’re doing.
It’s okay- you don’t have to avoid the subject. Whether you ask us or not, our depression is still going to be a reality for us. But having someone check in on us is a reminder that someone cares. And sometimes, that makes all the difference.
2. Give us the space to say no.
Families and friends often invite us to do things and sometimes, we’re just not up to it.
Please don’t make us feel guilty. Depression is an exhausting illness, with a myriad of symptoms that can hit us out of nowhere. Sometimes, even though we love you and want to make you happy, we just don’t have the energy to do things.
3. Let us you know you support us.
Having a mental illness can be vulnerable and knowing we have your support can mean the world. Sometimes just saying “I am here for you,” is enough. A few weeks ago a friend knew I was struggling and bought me a candle and it made feel seen and love. Lots of time living with depression is lonely. But when we feel your support, we are reminded that we are not alone.
Loving someone with depression is hard. And sometimes we may not always respond the way you want when you reach out. But the effort you’re making matters so much. You are our allies and many times the reason we get up and try again every day.
— Hope Cornelius