When I’m depressed I’m lucky enough to have people who want to help me. The problem is, whenever I’m depressed I can’t think about anything other than how depressed I am, so asking how you can help when I’m at in a bottomless pit of despair is really the wrong time. So, this is basically for future reference.
- Don’t take it personally. Depression is like a dementor, and I know I certainly take on those characteristics. A mentally ill person might not want to be around people sometimes. Don’t take it personal, they’re just having a hard time.
- Don’t change your “how are you?”‘s to “how arrrrreeee you?”. Basically, don’t be condescending. Just because someone’s depressed, doesn’t mean they lose their wit or intelligence. Pity has a strong stench, and the depressed have sharp noses for it. But also don’t act like everything’s fine either. Acknowledge their illness but don’t pity them for it.
- Keep your sense of humour and encourage them to do the same. Humour is often the best medicine.
- Don’t be offended when they don’t talk to you about their illness. It is nothing personal, it’s just therapists are generally the one’s who should be hearing about it. And if someone does try to tell you about their depression, don’t make the first thing you say “you should see a therapist”. Try to understand them at first. Empathy is key. Validate their feelings because they are real and terrifying. Explain that you love them and care for them but can’t offer any advice, then recommend a therapist.
Kindness is key. A little bit of kindness goes a long way for anyone who thinks the world is against them.
- Give them something to look forward to. A dinner at the weekend, or a midweek coffee break can be that little light that gets them through the next couple of days, and that means everything. People who are depressed often need to be reminded that there are actually good things in the world, as weird and obvious as that sounds.
- Basically, just be a nice human being. Despite everything you’ll have to put up with, I can guarantee that it’s harder for the depressed person. People get depressed for so many different reasons, and sometimes there isn’t one. You never know what goes on behind closed doors, so be as loving and compassionate as you can.