But, I saw a couple of articles recently that reminded me of my own struggles with depression, and that the best friends, the one’s who can really help and make a difference in the lives of a loved one with depression are not the ones who coddle them and tell them it’s ok. It’s the ones who remind us of our responsibility to take care of ourselves, that have the most impact.
First, the quotes:
5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.
Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.
It’s about acknowledging and grieving over the role of negative influences with that person, but then moving on from them; it’s about saying that ‘what happened to you, that abuse or neglect or terrible experience, or that genetic propensity, or whatever it is, none of that is your fault – in fact, these are awful things. But it’s still your life and you’re the only one who can live it.’
Both of these quotes rang true for me, and matched my experience in dealing with depression, and overcoming childhood abuse. I did, in fact, stop taking care of myself, and then beat myself up over not taking care of myself. Also, the one thing that pushed me over the top, so to speak, in recovering from my depression, was having my therapist simply ask me what I wanted my life to look like, and tell me that it was my decision and it could be anything I wanted.
People dealing with depression need support, love, and encouragement. Those trying to overcome trauma and abuse need to know that it’s not their fault. Then, we all need to know that we are now adults, and can live our own lives. Not that there are no effects from the trauma and not that we instantly “get over” depression, but it starts us down a path to building something for ourselves, and that goes a long way toward changing how we view our past, and our futures.