Helping Friends Battling Depression
When They Don’t Want It
One of the most disheartening things we can go through is having to watch your friend battle bouts of depression. You want to give them space so they can grieve but at the same time, there are moments that you just wish you could shake them out of that funk that they are in. Finding that balance of being by their side and giving them time to be alone can be very difficult.
I’ve learned over the years that people who are depressed generally don’t like to admit it to their closest friends. They end up shutting themselves in and are unwilling to ask for or accept help from those around them.
On these occasions, I recommend that you just be the person your friend can have fun around.
What does your friend enjoy?
Whatever it is, do that.
Does your friend enjoy going to sporting events? Buy a couple of tickets and take him to the game with you. Having fun again is one of the most helpful ways to pull yourself out of depression.
Don’t bring up their apparent sadness just let the day be fun.
I have a friend who loves to sit outside with a bottle of whiskey some music. Every week I would invite him to come over for some drinks and a barbecue, just him and I talking about sports music and whatever else was on our minds. What happened next was a little surprising (alcohol was involved so maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked), my friend opened up to me. He allowed me into his mindset and told me why he had been depressed, from there I was able to help him.
This works because you are not approaching your friend saying they need help.
Rather you are just being their escape from the problems they are facing.
Eventually, they will feel comfortable enough to talk about what they are going through.
How to react
When your friend does finally let you in on what is going on it is important that you empathize. Don’t minimize what they are going through and for god sakes leave yourself out of it. The last thing someone who is battling with their own depression wants to hear is about how you feel about something.
If they want your opinion on the situation or advice on what to do, they will ask you (and believe me, if they’ve broken down and told you what is going on, they will soon ask for advice). But until then be their ears and their shoulder to lean on for strength.
Sometimes those closest to us are so distraught that they feel like death is the only way to escape their pain.
If your friend intimates these types of feelings to you, it is your DUTY as a friend to get them immediate help.
- First, do not egg them on or make light of their feelings. This can cause them act on the thought of suicide.
- Do not make it about you. Hearing that someone you love doesn’t see any reason for living can be hurtful. Try to understand that what they are going through has nothing to do with you, but it is a battle within themselves that they are fighting.
- DO NOT LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. If someone tells you they are thinking of suicide you must stay with them. Don’t let them be alone for any reason.
- Take them to get professional help. This will probably anger them, they may feel betrayed, and they may curse you. But as a friend, it is now your responsibility to get them immediate help anyways.
Watching a loved one battle depression can be soul crushing. Watching happiness completely vanish from their bodies is not something anyone wants to see. But it is necessary that we be there for them. Even when they say they don’t need (or want) help. After all, friends are needed most in moments of despair.
Things that helped me:
Just for you: Of course, it is important to help those that we love. But it is also very important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself.