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When someone is suffering from depression, their entire life is blown apart. I would like to try and offer some advice to those people.
It can be a massive struggle just to make it through each day. The people who are often forgotten are the loved ones of a person with depression. Knowing somebody you love is struggling with depression leaves you feeling incredibly helpless.
We have been told, since the moment we could understand, that ‘men’ don’t ask for help.
It has been ingrained upon our very psyche that to show weakness or vulnerability is to go against everything that defines what a ‘man’ is.
For men, in particular, this approach can backfire greatly.
Men, by their very nature, are trained not to talk about their issues.
If somebody had a broken leg, you wouldn’t tell them to go for a run. ♦◊♦ Try to imagine that depression is like being in a dark tunnel.
You would be patient, you would understand that it will take time, patience and rehabilitation. Just because you can’t see an injury doesn’t mean that it isn’t debilitating. The person with depression can’t see a thing, because everything is surrounded by darkness. All they want to do is get out of the tunnel, but they can’t see where to go, they don’t know what to do.
The instinctual reaction for a male is to insist they don’t need help, that they can manage by themselves. When I was at my worst, everybody I tried to talk to would give me an opinion on how I could ‘make things better’. I just wanted to relay how I felt, and for the person to listen, give me a hug and reassure me that however long it took, they would stay in the darkness with me until I found my own way out. They talked, and they advised, and they suggested, and they tried to help, but they didn’t LISTEN. When they finish, hug them, tell them you love them, and that however long it takes, you will be there until they find the strength to get better. When the leg heals and you can walk again, it still can take weeks for it to regain full strength. Depending on how bad the break was, it may alter how you walk, what exercise you can do, even how you stand. I talked in my previous article about how, after my worst bout of depression, it took months before I felt I could do my job properly. Your natural reaction is to lead them out of this dark tunnel, back to the light. You may think it makes sense, but for the person with depression, nothing makes sense. They can’t be led out of the tunnel, because the fear is too great, the darkness is too dark.Trying to drag them out of this tunnel is more likely to make them curl up and hide than do any good.You feel if you could say the right thing, or do something special, that maybe you will be able to help them to get better. You try a gentle approach, you try a firm approach. You say encouraging things, you get frustrated and argue. From my experience, the big mistake that people often make is that they treat depression as a mood, as if saying or doing the right thing will lift the depression. This is because my depression completely changed my entire outlook on life, and it changed who I was as a person.
You give them space, you try to get them to open up. What you must remember is that depression isn’t a mood – it’s a very debilitating illness. When their loved ones are battling depression, when they are in that darkness, human nature is to try and ‘fix’ them. Whilst there are things you can do, like giving the day a routine, and trying to find activities to keep the persons’ mind active, you are not going to be able to make someone “snap out of it”, it’s just impossible.Indeed, any pressure on a man to open up, or to accept help, often backfires. You will never be able to lead someone out of the dark tunnel, all you can do is stay in the tunnel with them until they feel strong enough to lead themselves out. In many ways, hearing my loved ones tell me about their darkness was worse than living in my own.