It occurred to me the other day that whilst not everyone has depression or anxiety it is probably quite accurate to assume that you will know someone with a mental health issue. So, I thought that I would write a post on how to support someone with depression and anxiety.
I know that everyone is different, but these are the things that I believe are the most helpful to help you support them.
Before We Start
Mind has some extremely helpful guides that really help you understand mental health issues. If you want to support your loved one, I would definitely recommend checking out their website and they also offer downloadable workbooks and information on a whole range of different mental health subjects.
Do also check out my post How to look after you Mental Health for helpful hints and tips.
See the picture below?
Don’t Keep Asking If We Are Okay
I know that it is so tempting to ask because you genuinely want to make sure that they are okay, but honestly, this gets sooooo tiring. No, we are not okay, but it is not always possible to articulate what we are feeling. By asking if we are okay all of the time, we will then start saying yes, just so that you stop asking. We may even start hiding our bad days from you so that we don’t get asked this.
Don’t Bombard Us With Advice
Chances are, we have Googled the hell out of everything and know what we need to do. Or at least, I have. I know what I need to do to help lift my mood. Sometimes (okay, mostly!) we just want someone to listen to us and support us, not start giving advice. Just give us a hug, offer a cup of tea and depending on the mood, either general chit-chat or an ear is the best way to show your support.
Don’t Keep Asking Us Questions
What would you like to do? Do you want to go for a walk? What do you want for tea? Shall we go out? What do you want to watch on the telly?
These are all simple questions, right? (Apart from what do you want for tea, nobody has the answer to that one!) But when I was suffering terribly with my depression I couldn’t answer the most simple of questions. So being asked any of the above questions, which were meant with the best of intentions, would cause me to sink a bit deeper into my depression.
What I think is the best way to support someone when they are in this type of mood is to make the decision for them, but not in a bossy way. For example, they have no idea what they want for tea, how about you just make them their favourite meal, order a pizza or even just do some cheese on toast? Rather than ask them what they want to watch, how about you just put their favourite film on? Want them to get out of the house, put your shoes and coat on, and ask them if they want to join you. I always found that when Daz already had his shoes and coat on, it made it harder to say no. I think by doing the above things, it just takes the pressure off a little bit.
Check In On Us
Had a friend that you’ve not heard from in a while? Maybe they’re going through something that you don’t know about. Rather than being annoyed that it’s you texting them first yet again, maybe just send them a message saying hi, and seeing how they are.
Keep Inviting Us Out
I went through a phase where I just didn’t want to go out at all, so my friends stopped inviting me out as much because I was always saying no. I’m asking you, please don’t stop inviting that friend out. Even if they say no each time, there might be that time that you are surprised. Even if we don’t want to go out, it’s still so nice to still be invited out, and know that your friends haven’t forgotten you.
Don’t Assume That We Are Having A Bad Day
We have depression, we’re not depression itself. Not every day or every moment is going to be bad. So if we are happy and smiling, don’t automatically assume that we are covering up our sadness or putting on a front. There are good days and bad days.
Please, For The Love Of God, Do Not Say The Following….
- Cheer up
- What have you got to be depressed/anxious about?
- Snap out of it
- You just need to think more positively
- Try not to think about it
- Keep your head up
- Things could be worse/other people have it worse
I don’t think I really need to go into much detail with the above. They’re patronising and unhelpful. Just don’t say them. Thank you.
And Finally, Do Not Neglect Yourself
I think this is a very important one. I know that you want to support and look after your loved one, but how are you going to do that if you’ve run yourself into the ground? Make sure that you are still looking after yourself and that you have someone that you can talk to.