Prepare for different responses
When we open ourselves up and say something real, most people respond with respect. But sometimes people don’t have the skill-set to respond in a helpful way. It’s important to keep in mind that we may encounter different responses when we reach out for a hand in the fight against depression – and to not be deterred if we don’t find what we’re looking for right away.
Let the person talk
It’s not unusual for someone to disclose their own challenges when we speak to them about our own. This is a sign of trust and mutual understanding. If we want to be heard, we need to listen. Hear out whatever your friend or family member has to say. Be as patient with them as you want them to be with you.
Not everyone will understand (and that’s okay)
Not everyone understands what depression is or how to help out with someone who has depression, so don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t seem to “get it.”
If it doesn’t work, try again
The first person you talk about depression with might not be able to lend a hand in the way you hoped for, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others out there who can help out. Keep looking and talking. With time, you can figure out who is best to connect with for a little support.
Each person we approach has their own life and responsibilities. If someone isn’t as helpful as we hoped, it might simply be a reflection of how busy they are with things going on in their life.
Show your appreciation
Sometimes the help that people provide is not exactly what we needed. Nevertheless, it’s good to express our thanks. The person will feel respected and be more apt to lend a hand in the future, if we ask for it.
Maintain ongoing support
Getting support from friends and family members can lift some weight from our shoulders as we work toward overcoming depression. But just as depression can wear us down, it can wear other people down too. Here are some tips to keep in mind so we don’t burn out our supports.
Don’t ask for too much
Put limits on how much we ask of any one person. For example, we may want to set some limits on how often we text or phone the person.
Don’t expect others to be able to steer you to recovery
We are the ones who are in control of our health and lead the charge in our battles against depression. There are lots of people who can support us along the way, but ultimately we have to be responsible for our own health and well-being.
Don’t let your relationships become consumed by your health
Make sure to limit how much our health is the topic of conversation with friends and family. Relationships are maintained around the sharing of mutual interests and pleasures.
Be there for them too
A healthy relationship requires give and take. If we want friends or family members to listen to us, we need to be open to listening to them as well. If you can’t manage this at the time, let the person know that you will be there to return the favour when you are doing better.
Some useful ways to start a conversation
The list below includes some useful ways to start a conversation when reaching out to a friend or family member.
- “I’ve been having a hard time lately. Getting really stressed out. You mind if I bounce some ideas off you?”
- “I’ve been pretty stressed lately and could use someone to shoot the shit with. When might be a good time to chat?”
- “I’ve been feeling a bit off for a while – kind of moody and stressed out. Have you noticed anything different about me lately?”
- “I’m really falling behind on some chores. When are you getting groceries next? Maybe we can go together.”
- “I’ve been feeling off for a while now. Have you ever found yourself in a funk that was hard to get out of?”
- “I haven’t been feeling myself lately. Little things seem to be really getting to me and it’s been hard to keep up with things. Not quite sure how to turn the ship around. Do you have any suggestions?”
- “I made an appointment with my doctor the other day and he thinks I might be suffering from depression. I don’t really know much about depression. How about you?”
- “My doctor recommended seeing a counsellor. But it’s tough trying to find one, let alone figure out if they are good or not. Would you be able to give me a hand to figure out where I can go?”
- “I want to get out more these days but I don’t have the energy. If you can think of something to do and plan it out, I’ll be more likely to get my ass out of the house.”