As someone who has been dealing with depression for years, I know how difficult it can be to deal with a depressed person. It is one of the toughest things to talk with a depressed person, especially when it is someone you’re close to and care about. In my experience, it can get exhausting because more often than not, it is quite literally the equivalent of talking to a brick wall.
We wonder, “What could I possibly do at such times?” There’s something I have learnt over the years and would love to talk about.
My very first advice is: please, take it slow.
Depression is like a parasite – insidiously worming its hole into our brains. So no matter what inspirational talks and cheerful things you’re doing to make your loved one happy, it just won’t work – which also doesn’t mean you should stop it at that. Remember, it takes all the patience in the world when dealing with a depressed person. They might just not listen to you or would want to distance themselves from you – which I think you should, sometimes. They might need some time to figure things out and cry it all out. Let them.
You might think, “How long do I have to let them be?”
For as long as you think is healthy. If you see increased signs of them wanting to be alone and not behaving how they used to before, you should intervene. A depressed person is very likely to always want to push everything away and not wanting to do anything but just lay in the bed and sleep. They might even stop enjoying the things they used to love doing before.
What you should do
Be there for them. For the times when it is impossible to be physically there, keep in touch with them over the phone. Ask them normal stuff like, “Have you eaten?” “The weather is awfully nice today, isn’t it?” Make them dinner or coffee when you go to meet them. Take them out to movies and bookstores – anything that will feel therapeutic.
If there ever comes a time that they refuse to do absolutely anything – not wanting to eat, talk, go out, etc. – make sure that you’re there at all times and I would urge you to go and seek professional help for them. Therapy helps. Medication helps. Inform their loved ones about it, too. It is extremely important for someone to constantly be there at such times.
And no, it is not your fault.
There would be times you think that you might be at fault for them being depressed. But that is not the case! Remember that you are an amazing person for wanting to help them out. I know you might feel like being there for them constantly, but you also have to be present in your own life. You are not selfish for wanting to go out when they refuse to come with. In fact, you’re all the things but selfish!
What you should understand is that helping a depressed person isn’t the most rewarding job in the world. But seeing that person possibly battle depression in the future is what we should all aim for. But at the same time, please remember that you don’t have to shoulder all that responsibility.
Be there for them but also be there for yourself.