For many people with depression or bipolar disorder, a friend or loved one who cares can be their most important resource. There can be a lot of suffering, pain and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Try not to walk away. Reach out.
There are things you can do -
- Learn about the illness-its causes, symptoms, and treatments. Knowing about the condition will help you better understand what the person is going through.
- Be supportive and patient. Listen to what the person has to say and stay in touch.
- Do what you can to make sure that the person gets medical care. Encourage your friend or loved one to stick with his or her treatment plan. Offer to go with him or her to appointments as support.
- Without being pushy, encourage your friend or loved one to do the things that he or she used to enjoy. See friends. Go to the movies. Take a walk.
Depression can be a dark and lonely experience
Depression is absolute pain and can be debilitating as paralysis, and, in the blackest moments, suicide can seem easier than enduring the waking hours of the day.
My friend was a casualty in a dark war that millions of people across the world have to fight every hour, a silent battle that takes place in the mind, a battle that is ultimately fought alone and without light. My friend had dug deeply into his mind and without warning, it collapsed around him. We learnt later that he rang all of his friends before walking into his studio and closing the door behind him. He never mentioned how he felt, only that he wanted to see us soon.*
The struggle within every depressed person is agonising…
You long for them to be back to normal. You feel inadequacy, sadness, anger, hopelessness and despair.A depressed person can be very frustrating and uncomfortable to be around.They really need love patience and understanding. It has been said that loving or befriending a depressed person can be a bit like hugging a porcupine. Remind yourself often that your loved one has not chosen to be depressed. Go that extra mile time and time again, although sometimes nothing seems to work. Sometimes they act completely self-absorbed or have no appreciation for anything you do to help… As with most sufferers, mum put on a brave face (a mask) to the outside world. She kept much of what she was feeling to herself. She would collapse on the bed the moment she arrived home and increasingly she did not have the energy to prepare the evening meal. Activities that once offered pleasure seemed meaningless and simple tasks a real struggle. As she reached rock bottom, mum could no longer even pick flowers from her beloved garden, she could not go to the supermarket: the panic attacks would take over. I think that her bullet proof exterior made it hard (if not impossible) for her to ask for help and support… However despite all the therapy, Mum says that nothing beats knowing that there are other people out there who truly understand.*
Bipolar: Everything I can is all I can do…
Inviting Other People into my bipolar soap opera isn’t something I ever wanted to do. I am more than a little proud. When diagnosed, I resented the condition like hell. For me, it was crucial that no-one saw me differently because of my bipolar, and in my mind, that meant not telling them about it. I also believed there wasn’t much that anyone could do to help me anyway, and that it was therefore best for all if I handled it on my own.
Many years and many episodes later, I now know that I was wrong. Not only are there ways that other people can help me, I actually need them to provide this help. For my close family and friends, it has been frustrating to see me out of control – but far worse to be prohibited from helping.*