So this one has been sitting on my heart for a while now, and I’ve been afraid to touch it because it would mean speaking up about my own issues and that isn’t always fun is it? But if this post can help even one person, it’ll all be worth it.
Now, I’m a bit of an empath. I have this tendency to absorb other people’s pain and make it my own, even when I don’t have to, especially when I don’t have to. My mother and my sister always keep bad news from me because I always feel it a bit too much. Like a couple of weeks ago, I read that a young pastor had committed suicide and left his wife and three little boys behind, when I tell you this news broke my heart!.. I just couldn’t let it go and it hurt me so badly because I knew the pain he could have been feeling to make him forget his family and just end it all. Actually what prompted this post was a letter his wife wrote to him on her blog, she said she was sorry that she didn’t understand him when he’d told her how tired he was.. this statement hit me like a ton of bricks because I say that a lot. I have said to my sister countless times how tired I was and I know she tries but she truly cannot understand that bone crushing exhaustion that overcomes you when you’re battling depression, it’s a tiredness that nothing except God can fix and if you don’t snap out of it, the results are often devastating.
So I want to put together my thoughts about handling friends and loved ones who might be going through depression, these are things I have found true for myself, it’s in no way set in stone but it’s worth paying attention to.
- Listen: When your friend or loved ones confide in you, give them the gift of your undivided attention, listen closely and try to decipher what they are really telling you. Often times they might be unable to articulate their pain to you and there will be words like: painful, tired, discouraged and so on. Try not to interrupt them, if you are sitting with them, try to hold their hands while they speak and if it’s on the phone, interject only when you absolutely have to. Just listen.
- Don’t downplay their fears: A lot of times when you’re depressed your fears don’t make a lot of sense. I’ll speak for myself and say that when I’m in a dark place, I’m worrying about things that haven’t even happened and might never happen!. Depression isn’t quite logical you know, so as a friend who’s listening,dismissing these fears as invalid isn’t the way to go. Like if a friend tells you she’s afraid she’ll never have kids, even though you know she can, don’t just dismiss her concerns instead ask questions. Why do you feel this way? What triggered this thought? In doing so you might help get to root of that fear and banish it.
- Don’t ask WHY: When someone in your life comes to you and tells you he or she is depressed please don’t ask why. That’s like asking a cancer patient why they have a tumor. If they knew why they were feeling that way then they’ll fix it and you’ll never have to know. Again I’ll use myself, when I’m depressed and I try to talk to someone and they ask why, I automatically shut down and crack jokes and act like I didn’t say anything because how am I supposed to answer that question? I don’t know why it’s happening, I just need it to not be happening!
- Don’t drown them with scriptures and “it is well”: Now this is a tricky one. I’m born again, I believe in God and His infinite power, but in that moment when my head is clouded and the darkness has set in, honestly it is HARD to pray for me all I do is cry, deep gut wrenching sobs that leave me hollowed out. Telling someone in that state to read the bible and pray is futile because if they could they would! Nobody wants to feel that way. What helps me is offering to pray for or with me. God blessed me with good friends, I’ve had a friend tell me: ok ok! Just close your eyes. She sang to me and prayed for me and like magic I felt better. So figure out a way to get through to them in a loving and non condescending manner. Also don’t compare your own troubles to what they’re going through. Trust me, it is not the same, not even remotely.
- No Joking: When the storm has passed and they’re feeling better, it’s never a wise move to refer to their depression jokingly. I’ve had people say to me: “Lol sebi you were forming depressed” or other tactless comments. You cannot know the damage those carelessly tossed words can cause. That person might never confide in you again because how can you trust someone that jokes about your pain?
I hope this list was somewhat helpful to you if you have anyone in your life battling with depression. They might not always want to talk about it. It’s heavy! I don’t always want to seem sad to my friends and loved ones, I want to be upbeat and bubbly. So a lot of times I just keep it to myself because honestly, it’s hard to explain and people don’t understand. Sometime this year when I was still in Nigeria, I was so broken and so freaking miserable and one day I just walked into the road. At that point I knew that was a busy road, I knew what happened to people who walk into busy roads but I truly didn’t care, I just wanted to not feel anything anymore. Thankfully nothing happened to me and I walked back home and acted as if nothing had happened because how could I tell my siblings what I had just done? The darkness can become comfortable, the demons become familiar and sometimes you just want to stay there but I’m here to tell you to get up! There’s so much life to be lived, so much love waiting for you, don’t let the darkness win.
For me music always helps, especially worship music. Reading helps me too and talking to my mum or my sister is always a sure way to feel better because without me having to tell them what I’m going through, they just make me laugh and that soothes my soul. Be intentional this week about showing love to your friends, check up on people when they cross your mind, you never know how much your message will help. Everybody needs somebody they can lean on, nobody should have to walk alone.
Ps: if you’re reading this and you’re feeling down and you need to talk to someone, I am here for you. Please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org I promise to write you back or even call if you want me to. You’ve got this! God has got you and it will get better.
” Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.” – Anonymous