How to Treat Loved Ones With Depression

Found an interesting list the other day on this subject. 20 Things to Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer from Depression.

Most of them are things that are good to be reminded of, but one really stood out for me:

10. They should be treated like anyone else

No need for eggshells, or tiptoes. Go about your business and assume your depressed loved one is 100% healthy. Sometimes just living a routine, but a predictable, purposeful routine, can bring such a boost and be a remedy for depression.

When I was suffering from depression, and even as I was medicated and beginning to climb out of it, the one thing that was far too rare in my life was friends who could interact with me the same way they did before I got sick. Instead of having a few laughs and catching up, their actions towards me served as a constant reminder that something was wrong with me, that I was so broken and beyond repair that no one dared speak an ill word about anything for fear of breaking me even further.

Like I needed help with that.

When you are suffering from depression, it is a constant battle to see yourself as normal. The illness is always telling you how useless, worthless, and abnormal you are. It tells you that nothing is worth the effort, that no one really likes you, and no one wants to be around you. And then, when you do convince yourself to push past that, and be social, your friends simply prove the point by being uncomfortable around you. (See? No one wants to be around you, you make them uncomfortable, there’s something wrong with you…)

So please, if you know someone suffering from depression, keep all 20 things in mind, but for me, also remember that they are the same person they were before the depression started, and treat them accordingly, OK?

There are no Simple Hugs To Survivors

I was bemused when I saw the title of a recent article on Psych Central:
The Power of a Simple Hug as a Natural Anti-Depressant

Not that the content of the article surprised me, I’ve long known, and written about, the power of touch, and the ability of a hug to calm the boy and mind. There is plenty of research out there that shows this. No, what bemused me in thinking about it was this concept of a “simple” hug. Survivors of sexual abuse, especially those who are very early on their path to healing from abuse, don’t have simple hugs. The act of being hugged by someone is anything but simple! It’s fraught with all sorts of things that are going on in our heads.

In fact, it reminded me of a saying that a group of us used to share about romantic relationships and survivors. “To a sexual abuse survivor, there is no such thing as non-sexual touching.” We grew up without boundaries when it came to touching, and equating being touched with sexual violence. To suddenly say that the best thing for our depression would be to be hugged, is completely ridiculous. And yet, if we could reach a point where we can experience a simple hug as a simple hug, it would be so beneficial to us in our struggles with depression, sadness, and all of the other day to day mental health struggles that we have as a result of being abused.

In other words:

  • I struggle with depression because of my childhood experiences.
  • One of the best ways to cope with that struggle is being able to accept support, and even hugs, from those close to me.
  • My childhood experiences taught me not to trust anyone who acted kindly toward me, especially those who want to touch me.

We can’t win for losing.

On the other hand, I am at a point in my life where I do understand, and even appreciate, simple touching. A hug from a friend is a fabulous thing to me, not the beginning of a panic and worry about what they really want from me. It took some time and work to get there, but it was well worth it. I hope all of you can start to experience that same connection with other people that touch, and hugs, can bring.

Do you have issues with touch, or have you found that overcoming those issues has opened a door to healing from depression? Share your story in the comments!

Depression Blogs and Games

I linked to this yesterday on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, but I wanted to also add it to this post. The Psych Central website has listed their Top 10 Depression Blog of 2014. I have to admit that there are a few on there I’ve never read, but I will definitely be checking them out!

Do you have a favorite depression blog not listed there?

Also, I wanted to share a Mashable article I saw as well. Titled 3 Free Games That Can Help You Cope And Understand Depression it goes on to talk about three video games with depression as the central theme. I’ll let the author, Matthew Hughes explain:

The UK’s Office of National Statistics says that one in five British adults suffer from depression. It’s an epidemic of massive proportions, comes with a massive societal impact, with depression costing the European economy almost 118 million Euros in lost worker productivity and expenditure on treatment.

It’s not just a feeling of sadness. It’s not laziness. It’s a complex, confusing mental illness that impacts people in different ways. It can pull you into a spiral of numbness, anxiety, hopelessness and apathy, and make the simplest things like getting out of bed feel like an excruciating effort.

So, where do games come into this? Games – like any other genre of popular culture – can help us understand complex issues. Complex issues like depression and mental health. Don’t believe me? Here are 3 that walk you through what it’s like to suffer from depression, or give you helpful strategies for coping with it.

Now, I’ve never been a big gamer so I’m going to reserve judgement on whether video games can help. I’m willing to admit that anything that helps is a good thing, and if there are folks out there who are helped by playing these games, I’m glad they exist! I don’t think they’d be for me, but that’s just the point, they aren’t for me. Maybe they are for someone else.

Have you played any these games? What do you think?

A Day in the Life Of Someone With Mental Health Issues

Over in the UK, there’s a project due to start this coming Friday, Nov. 7 that bears keeping an eye on:

A Day in the Life is a year-long project to collect the everyday experiences of people who experience mental health difficulties in England. If you experience a mental health difficulty sign up to share with the world what your day was like on four calendar dates across the length of the project.
You don’t have to use your real name and you can be as anonymous as you want to be.
The everyday life of people with mental health difficulties has tended to remain hidden. Together we can change that by sharing what makes life better and what makes life worse. The first day in the life will be Friday 7th November 2014.

The link is here:

Let’s hope that getting a glimpse into the day to day lives of people in the UK dealing with mental health issues can help end the stigma of depression and other mental health issues.

World Mental Health Day #wmhd14

If you haven’t seen it mentioned on other blogs, today, Oct 10, 2014 is “World Mental Health Day”. The fine folks over at Psych Central are throwing a “blog party” to celebrate, getting bloggers to write a post about mental health and linking to it from that page.

One of the things you can see on that page, or looking at Twitter for the #wmhd14 hashtag, it becomes pretty obvious that there are a lot of people writing about mental health today.

I think that’s fantastic, for one very big reason. When I was in the midst of the worst of my depression, the one thing that I remember most clearly is the feeling of being utterly alone. That’s one of the lies depression tells you, that no one will understand, no one knows what it’s like, and no one can help you. Looking around today, I can see just how untruthful that is. There are resources, (Though we need more!!!) there are people who care and, most importantly, there are people who’ve been where you are, and survived.

Today is also a day that I saw an article about the 40,000 people we lose to suicide every year in the US. How many of those people would still be with us if they could have known how many others are out here dealing with the same thing they are, and offering support for one another. So do me a favor, ok? Share what we’re seeing online today with the people you care about. You never know how many of them might need to know.