Patient Blogs | Depression
Supporting a Loved One With Depression
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Living with depression is a constant fight. And like any battle, surrounding yourself with support is crucial to survival. Not everyone is lucky enough to have people willing and comfortable with supporting them through mental illness, but the impact of just having a listening ear or encouraging words can make a difference. 

Throughout my own journey, I have received questions from friends and acquaintances on how to best support their loved one through depression. Many people want to help but aren’t sure exactly how to. Over the years, I have learned that finding support means teaching and telling others how you would like to receive love and what works best for you. 

I think a lot of people who don’t experience depression want to help by fixing it – by trying to encourage positivity and gratitude or offering advice on therapies or their opinions on medication and other treatments. But the truth is, we don’t need you to give us tips and tricks on how to manage the illness we know inside and out. 

The best advice I give to people who want to help their loved ones is something I learned through a lot of self-reflection, trial and error, and the Pixar movie Inside Out. The best way to describe it: Don’t try to fix someone’s pain, sit with them through it.

Sitting with someone through their pain means offering support by listening to them and acknowledging that things are hard. It means accepting their feelings and reassuring them that you’ll be there through the darkness they experience. It means comforting them with validation and gentle love. 

My support system has learned how to love and support me through my depression, and I am endlessly grateful. It’s not the fixing actions that have made me feel better, but the acts of kindness and grace that represent love regardless of what you are going through. The Venmos to treat myself to a coffee on a hard day, the texts asking, “How can I help?” The hugs and hand holding that don’t need to be accompanied by words. Your check-ins and reminders that we don’t need to be anything else but ourselves with our pain. 

Your presence is enough. Your listening ear is how we feel heard and loved. When “fixing” transforms into “acknowledging,” recovery can best be supported.

It’s hard to not want to fix and offer suggestions to someone going through a difficult time. You just want to take away their pain, and in that desperation, you may feel helpless. But we acknowledge that our depression isn’t going to magically disappear. We don’t want to be told that we need to do something to change the situation we are in. We know that. Our illness has a tight grip that won’t be loosened with just one change. 

There is comfort in the silence. Sit with us. Ask yourself how you would want to be loved if you also lived in darkness. What do you hear? 

 

To connect with other people living with depression join our Depression Facebook Support Group.

 

Photo Credit: stock_colors / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Kristen Luft

Kristen Luft

Diagnosed since 2013

Kristen Luft is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate who has been living with depression since 2013. She is currently a marketing professional in North Carolina. Kristen is also a mental health advocate and writer, sharing her story to offer hope that we can all live full lives in recovery. When she's not working or writing, you can find her reading or spending time with her loved ones and dogs. Connect with Kristen on Instagram.

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