How to talk to a depressed person
WHO report says that death due to suicide among teenagers is ranked 3rd! On one side, there are nations’ leaders campaigning that the youth of today is tomorrow’s future; and on the other, we have the same youth take their lives because of various. Amongst the reasons, mental health and depression being the leading cause.
But what is this!
Depression is a low state of mind. Just like how depressions are created in the wind pressure and direction over oceans, a similar trough gets created in the human minds. This is not just confined to teenagers but is prominently found among middle-aged and aged persons also. Surprisingly it is also detected in your grandparents or grand uncles’ and grand aunties’.
The feeling of loneliness, the feeling of not having that inner circle whom you could trust, that feeling of emptiness, disturbed sleep and eating patterns, anxiety issues, stress eating, that feeling of hollowness within is unfathomable! Everyday getting up the bed, breathing every minute is a challenge. It is the hardest task.
Well, talking about this to a friend, seeking professional help, and not bottling up your emotions is the ideal way to approach it. Although, on the flip side of it, what if you are that friend who is helping out, what if you are that listening ear, that supportive shoulder? As that friend, you might have your own doubts. Like, will I be able to help my friend, would any statement I make hurt ze, would I be supportive enough, should I give any advice?
How do we talk then?
It is said that the solution lies within us.
The same applies to the help seeker and the one extending help. The former has to be made aware of it, while the latter should have that self faith. The mere thought of helping is more than enough to manifest that into action. Here is a couple of action manifestation we could come up with. If you are that helper, do give it some thought, if not, manifest the same by sharing :D
1. Compassion- showing one love, compassion, and affection opens the gates of trust. Letting ze know that you are a reliable ray of resource, could be the first step towards taking one’s heart out. It is important for you to build that trust and maintain it.
Going for a walk together, cycling, doing a fun activity can bring in some positive energy.
It could be any activity! Just helping ze out in that, it can be the smallest of the contribution that can show compassion. More than sympathy; empathise with them. Let them you that you are there for them.
Doing activities one loves to do, show that ze still has it in themselves; it shows they are still capable and are strong. That ze is strong to battle this out! Your support and contribution in the same keeps ze motivated. A Good Morning wish, a small greeting to show that they still have the strength in them could keep them going. So go ahead, and show that compassion that you care for ze.
2. It is okay- acceptance is the hardest to accept. We are often programmed to learn that feeling depressed is a weak state of mind. We forget that the brain is also an organ that needs healing just like the other organs of the body. It just works like this notion of feeling sick is a sign of normalcy in a human body and a sign of building immunity.
We live in a state of denial, and at times put up a mask of everything being fine.
Sometimes that may not be. And accepting that is the bravest step. Being aware of what ze feels, and helping one accept that is a very brave step. Most of our life goes in becoming aware of what is happening with us, and the rest goes in accepting it.
It is okay to feel the way one is feeling. Talking it out would somewhere begin the step towards acceptance. Knowing that hard truth and living with that definitely takes a lot of courage. But letting ze know that it is okay, begins the process of healing.
At times you might be scared to open up to anyone. Then how do we get this out of our systems? You can trust a pen and a paper to jot down your emotions, situations and your reactions which lead to them. Making such notes in a journal, eventually will make you aware of your own emotions. Like said before, you might end up finding a solution by yourself!
3. Listen- Dale Carnage in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” talks about various elements of communication. The last chapter talks about listening. It is a general notion to hear with the intention to reply. The art of listening is all about reading those unsaid lines. Depression often creates a lot of clogs in minds that it becomes difficult to address them. The art of questioning comes along with the art of listening.
Asking the right set of questions would make one think and talk. Follow up questions would actually get them talking. And when they do, it is important to listen. Give that attention, show that respect that you are listening to, and understand their point of view.
But hey! Listening to so much is difficult, and it may so happen that you can’t fathom the trouble one is going through. It just makes you human. Re-assure that you are there for them, by their side. You could always seek clarifications and assurances that their side of the story is being given heed to.
Simply listen with an intention to understand. Straight away diving into Dr. Advice is not advisable. Nod your head, and let them know you are with them every step in this battle!
4. Show that their life matters- the feeling of my life is a flop, it is utter waste, me breathing or not hardly matters, is very common in a depressed state of mind. The same often leads to suicidal thoughts. A few make these negatives talks their ultimatum, and end up taking their lives.
Every life matters. Every breath matters. 9 months of struggle to bring you to the existence, was a choice that one made. There might be times where one feels alone, but there are good times waiting for you! Show them that their life matters, how much they mean to you, and that their life is a gift on this planet.
The start and end time of our life aren’t in our hands. Even the latter option is legally made available at a few places. But the essence here is that it is a gift given. It was a choice to let you breathe on this planet. And that has to be live. That is possible when ze realises that their life matters. So be that shining light!
5. Show them the purpose- the purpose is a driving force. A force to achieve something in life. Often times, we associate our purpose with another person. When that associated person leaves you in the lurch, the first thought that might occur would be the end of my purpose.
People in our lives play different roles in different capacities. You are that friend, that supportive shoulder who can get this purpose back to life. No, we don’t mean that you get into being that inspiring person. You are just aiding that friend of yours to move on, help ze understand that purpose in life is a bigger element.
It cannot just come and go with the people you associate to. The gift of life has been given to you with a purpose; it still lets you breathe because you are meant for a bigger purpose. Now, what is that? It is a self assessment process. A process we would deal with along the journey. But it is important to make ze realize that life isn’t over because of a couple of incidents from the past. The gift of present is to be lived now; with a purpose much bigger waiting for you to be ready! So guide them to their purpose of life!
Remember to take care of yourself
In the whole process of supporting, sometimes you feeling lost is a common feeling. At times the dark pull is so much that you might also have a placebo effect. But it is important to keep yourself in a strong state of mind, for your friend, family would have put their trust in you. The battle for you is harder because you are handling two individuals; you as a helper and the help seeker.
There might be times where you might just want to give up. In the whole process, you might have also lost some amount of faith. But remember to take care of yourself, remember to stay strong for yourself also.
Depression is that state of affair of the mind that can hit at any time, at any age. Battling it all by yourself may not be possible by all. But showing one that compassion, showering that love, guiding through a path of possibility; is essentially important.
Depression at different ages needs different types of approaches. To the elderly just being a listening ear is sufficient, to the middle-aged re-assuring would be a breathable move, to the youngsters guiding through as a supportive shoulder. At the same time, knowing what needs to be done at what time is equally important. At times, just talking would work the best, at times a pat on the shoulder can be an appreciative move, and at times the hug of support can make wonders!
Of course, professional help is required, but it begins with small steps within our vicinity. When you hear that a friend, a family, a colleague is in depression, take effective steps to understand them. Check with them if you could be of some help. At times getting out of the bed itself might be difficult. Anyone would love a hot cup of beverage the first thing in the morning. Just be there at every step they take. The slightest of the slightest contribution from your end could make their day!
Remember to help as much as you can, and stay strong, for yourself and the person you are helping. :D