There isn’t a play book when it comes to Mental Illness.
This disease is different with each person. It fluctuates with microscopic changes that can occur daily and even hourly making management difficult. There is no cure, and one will probably not be identified in our lifetime.
Yet, an often overlooked victim of depression are those who struggle to understand how to live with someone who has it.
Because of the stigma associated with mental health, there has always been a reluctance to openly talk about it. Choosing to speak about my experience with depression is my attempt to humanize the disease. Only now do I understand what I have, what it does, how to live with it, and how it has affected my friends and family, am I able to be this open about it.
Looking back I now know my depression hurt a lot of people.
Hindsight has made it clear what caused all the frustration, fear, and anger was that no one, including myself, knew what to do or how to help. Imagine you are responsible for building a dam with flood waters constantly rising against your efforts. No matter how many times you complete your constructions, water continues to leak and you have to start over and over again. You would eventually become exhausted against this no-win situation.
This is what living with someone who has depression can feel like.
I know because this is how it has been described to me. The horrible part is you feel even more terrible about yourself, and the person affected feels bad because they may feel they have contributed to your illness in some way. It is a lose-lose situation.
Avoid trying to solve the problems of depression alone.
In fact, don’t try to solve anything. Be there for your friend or loved one. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Offer the opportunity for them talk and share how they feel. Communicate to your friend or family member that you are there for them and that you will be with them every step of the way. Don’t worry about being a psychiatrist. Your friend doesn’t need you to be a doctor, just someone who cares and listens.
Listening can be one of the best ways you can learn about depression, and more importantly, it may be one of the best ways to treat it.