(I’m re-posting this from last Friday. I wrote it quickly and posted it at a low-traffic time. I think it’s worth republishing. The added material is written in bold type.)
My heart goes out to all of you worried about a loved one experiencing depression. If they’ve already started medication, they want to feel better-QUICK! And we want them to. I’ve known many of my loved ones experience lots of illness but I have to say I think depression might be the worst, for them and for me. I think that’s because the “real” person has disappeared and only a shell remains. That’s scary for them and for us.
Depression is awful. The clouds that hang overhead are
I’ve been there and don’t ever want to go back. But it’s almost as painful watching someone you love experience it.I can remember trying to find all kinds of reasons I was feeling the way I was, anything but depression. I never wanted to be on medication again. Consequently, that hindered my healing. Most truly depressed people, contrary to what people think, don’t want to be on medication. (I say “truly” depressed, because there is a large segment of people who run for the medication because they just want to be “happy” and aren’t clinically depressed at all.)
So if you’re the one “observing” rather than the one “experiencing”, my heart is with you today. (Actually, my heart is with you either way.)
Here’s some pointers:
- Be as patient as the “patient”.
- Don’t give up. If you do, they might.
- Don’t hover but don’t walk away.
- Empathize but don’t sympathize.
- Let them talk about it but change the subject when it turns to rumination, which it usually does.
- Don’t minimize their suffering but don’t make it worse by constantly hovering and bringing it up. I can tell you emphatically if you’ve never been seriously depressed, you have no clue about the pain, real pain, that accompanies the illness. God forbid you ever get there yourself.
- Take on some of their responsibilities if you can so aren’t overwhelmed. Remember, distraction is a really good tool to fight depression. But sometimes, having too much to do can be overwhelming.
- Remember, try as you might, love as you might, you can’t get them better. And that, dear reader, is exactly what is so hard. Because if we could, we would.
- PRAY, PRAY, PRAY–for healing, wisdom, protection, grace, mercy
Most of all, remember they are truly ill. The illness may be centered in the mind, but why should that make any difference anyway? Most illnesses have a mind/body component.
Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t pat yourself on the back if you’ve never experienced depression. I can almost guarantee you have a number of other “issues”. Many, many illnesses “mask” depression.Remember,almost all illness has a mind-body connection. Just as wrong thinking may contribute to depression, wrong living contributes to many illnesses.
The stigma associated with any mental illness is truly appalling. And the truth———-?
people who experience depression are usually highly intelligent, sensitive to others, creative, and all around good people. Can I just say? selfish, self-centered, shallow people almost never get depressed.
Depressed people should not be defined by their illness. Depression isn’t who they are, it’s what they “have“. To characterize a person because of an illness or disability, no matter what it is, is an affront. We are much more than part of a story.
So hang in there if you’re the caregiver. It’s not your fault. You can no more give someone depression than you can the flu. Let go of the guilt and find some acceptance and love for yourself. They will get better.
(Another time we’ll discuss those who don’t. But let’s just say, they are the ones who generally want to stay stuck in which case one has to question whether it’s truly depression. No one who ever has experienced clinical depression wants to stay there.)
God bless. I’m there with you and have lifted you up in prayer today.
(I am currently the “observer” and have been often. Honestly, I think it’s harder in a way to be the observer. In large part, that’s because if we’ve suffered depression ourselves, we empathize to the point of almost absorbing their pain because we know too intimately what they are going through. We wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and to see someone we love hurt so much, is almost intolerable. I go to sleep praying, I wake up often during the night and pray, I wake-up praying. I’m not exaggerating here at all.)