Have you wanted to reach out to someone with depression but didn’t know what to say or how to act?
Try saying nothing beyond the opening contact.
Giving someone the opportunity to vent is a great gift. Saying “how are you?” and genuinely meaning that you’re ready to hear more than the standard “I’m OK” is what sets you apart from other people.
If someone contacts me to ask how am I it normally gets the standard “fine” response depending on my feelings that day. Do you just accept that and think “well I made some effort”? and move on from there?
It is a natural human reaction after all, but how many times have you followed that up by letting the person know if they want to talk then you are there for them?
It is a difficult position to be in because you feel like you may need to give advice to something that makes you feel uncomfortable, or simply because you are worried about saying the wrong thing.
This is where it is good to just allow the person to get things of their chest. I often don’t want to open up to you to get advice or sympathy but simply to unload things. Getting it off my chest makes me feel better in a matter of minutes because it means I am not keeping it inside waiting for the bomb to go off.
Offering an outlet for your friend, or family member, gives them the chance to feel better. Something this simple is often overlooked, often because people feel they are likely to open Pandora’s box of problems but it is very rarely that this is the case.
Another issue with people who have depression is the impression that they are all about depression! I have depression but I am still Garry, I can still talk about other things besides depression and how I am feeling. There seems to be the feeling that once we are suffering from depression it is all we want to talk about, believe me that is far from the case but without the interaction from other people it doesn’t give us much opportunity to discuss other things.
One thing I am proud of since starting this blog is the number of people who feel like they can open up to me about their problems knowing that I will not judge them or belittle them. More often than not I offer zero in terms of productive advice I simply allow them to have a space to vent.
Sometimes saying nothing is the most helpful thing you can do.
It’s not the fact that you can instantly make my depression better with your words of wisdom that matters, it is the fact you care enough about me to really be interested in how I am.
Remember people say I have depression, not I am depressed. There is a big difference between the two statements. Be there, offer words of comfort and understanding if required. Usually we know what needs to be done but need to work this out for ourselves at times. What matters is knowing you have our backs when the times comes for us to need you.