Remember That This is Not a Logical Disease – When examining the sufferer's world, you might be perplexed as to why they don't appreciate or love their life when it seems to be so beautiful. Depression isn’t based in logic. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It wreaks havoc on perspective, robs the individual of experiencing joy, obscures perception and ultimately creates distorted beliefs about the world and value of life. You cannot argue it or talk someone out of it. They need treatment and resources that a non-professional simply cannot provide. For someone in the throes of a major depressive episode, there is a perpetual dark cloud that taints every experience and thought. Could you be rational in such a state?
Tend to YOUR Needs Too – Maintaining your mental and physical health is not a luxury. It's a necessity. While the person you love may be engaged in a mental battlefield of pain, you are going through your own crusade as well. Of course the hope is that the person you love will be proactive enough to seek help. Research tells us that a combination of therapy and medication offer the greatest chance for recovery, but information isn’t enough. That person has to want to get better. Remember though, before you can be a support for them, you have to be your own advocate.
Ask yourself the following:
- Has THEIR recovery become your sole focus?
- Are you experiencing anxiety and/or your own bought of depression watching them struggle?
- Are you eating/sleeping well?
- Are you getting enough exercise?
- Have you become preoccupied with researching information and treatments on depression?
- Have you noticed that you are more reactive and angry over the little things?
- Have you stopped activities, rituals and outings you love to be physically present with your loved one at all times?
If you find yourself nodding in agreement, it's time to re-commit to the process of self care and better manage the personal needs you have been neglecting.
Find the Balance – Sufferers most certainly need help and patience but they do not benefit from a never-ending supply of understanding. While it may seem illogical, being too compassionate can actually do more harm than good. When someone is depressed they feel worthless and hopeless and seeing their loved one being overly supportive can make them feel worse, because they don't feel deserving of it. They may end up pushing you away and this can only lead to anger, resentment and confusion on your part. Further, being excessively accepting may unconsciously reduce their motivation to take action by creating a crutch or excuse for their behaviors. A diagnosis of depression is not a get out of jail free card. It is, however, an opportunity to heal for everyone.