When I realized my friend suffered from depression

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Finding Happy. Love. & Peace.

I truly didn’t understand the extent of depression and how deep it could affect others around you. As a woman we’ve been taught to get done move onward, upward, and forward, and most of us do.  However, in the wee hours of the night when we’re alone with our spirit and inner voice we may second guess our true feelings.

I recently discovered a close girl friend suffered from depression. I honestly thought okay, we all have our moments. right? We gain weight, have a extra cocktail, sometimes buy a pair shoes too many, but these are all coping mechanisms I thought. We all have something we use to get through a bad day.  Unfortunately, my friends bad day has lasted for years now. The weight gain wasn’t a few pounds but many, her behavior changed, her interactions with others suffers, and she unfortunately doesn’t remember the bright eyed optimistic person she once was.  I realize life has its way of beaten you up, but you have to stay in the fight and not allow the enemy to win.

It’s been really difficult for me to witness the downward spiral of someones life who has such talent and promise.  She is beautiful, pleasant, sweet, and a bundle of joy, but this disease is suffocating her body, mind, and spirit. I guess the hardest part is that you realize your friend is there but emotionally their in a vegetative state. This is the hardest part. To look at them and the person you knew is somewhere deep inside and you want to pull them back to life.

Since this discovery, I’ve gone back and forth on what to do. I’ve tried what I call the team method, this is when everyone’s on board to support a common goal.  In this case we used a weight loss challenge. Not the best idea.  I’ve learned when you’re depressed it’s difficult to focus on such a hard task, when normal day to day activities are difficult.  Just getting out of bed some days can be painful.  Next I tried the distraction method.  Let’s do something fun and creative together.  Again, I was someone who at the time who didn’t know the severity of depression and how harmful everyday mundane task could be. So needless to say this was an epic fail as well. 

Here is where the path took a change.  Wake up Andrea, your girl needs, HELP... I started along the personal path to first learn about depression, and my first Aha moment arrived.  I read this: Find out why your friend is depressed. Did they just have a bad break-up or did their parents get divorced? Or are they just simply mad or disappointed with life and the world? Ask them what you can do to help. Ask carefully and gently, and don't get upset if they're slow to tell you. Some people take longer than others to talk. If they do tell you a list of things you can do, then do them. Usually if they answer a question like this in full they absolutely genuinely need those things from you. What not to do is to ask that and they answer and not carry those things out. This will just send them back into a deeper state of their depression because once again, they have been let down. Especially since it would be by someone so close as their best friend, it could be very damaging.

Well, it finally came to me, since I’ve known her she’s had 4 tragic personal situations that happened in her life. With each event, she lost a little of herself and never recovered. As I reminisce over the last decade together there have been several changes for both of us. Some good, some bad, but we always seem to make it through to the other side. When I look at her now life has started to takes its toll on her physically and mentally. We can’t laugh or joke the way we use to, everything is so intense.  So when I read this I thought, this could be it. I love her with all of my heart and only want the best for her. She’s a gift, not just to me but others and we want her back!

This has been a learning process. I’ve learned to be patient, love her through it, use joy, life, and laughter as a positive influence, and never ever give up on your #lifeships journey.

Since I’m sharing my life’s path I wanted to help anyone who may have a friend or love one who may be struggling with this horrible disease. Below you will find tips that helped me. If you’ve had someone close to you suffer from this disease and you have tips you would like to share, please feel free to do so.

Thanks 

#lifeships #love & #laughter

TIPS:

  • Be patient. Don't involve other peers unless the person is happy with you involving other people. And above all remind them that you will always be there for them. And if you say it, mean it.
  • People can and do recover from depression. Never lose sight of that, and without pushing it in the depressed person's face, make sure they remember it too.
  • Keep them talking, talking helps but give them ways to work out their problems privately too, don't force them to be dependent on you.
  • A lot of times depressed people just want to be alone, so don't push. If you can, try to get them interested in going out with friends and doing things again. Even getting them to be happy again for a couple hours means there is still hope!
  • Do things for your friend. Helping with work, distracting them or temporarily cheering them up, defending them from others...preventing and blocking everyday hasslesdoes make a difference.
  • Recovery can be hard work and it may take a while. It probably won't happen overnight, or even in a few days or weeks, depending on how severe the depression is and the trigger factors causing it, if any. It is possible to experience "blips" or temporary relapses on the road to recovery; this is normal, so be gently reassuring when it happens, and remind them how far they have come.
  • If you honestly mean it and can do so with an open heart, offer to be there 24/7. Tell them that you welcome their phone calls at all hours. You will rarely, if ever, receive a middle of the night call. But a sincere offer sends a message of support that will be heard.
  • Do not try to make them feel better by reminding them how much better their lives are than other people's.
  • Don't ask them to "cheer up" or "snap out of it". People with depression aren't capable of just doing it so simply, so be sensitive to that. It'll only make them feel guilty about their condition.
  • Always be there. Often times them just knowing that your presence is there is reassuring. Let them know that you are here for them. This way they will not feel pressured by you while at the same time knowing that they can come to you on their own terms. 
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WARNINGS

  • Don't tell you friend to stop being depressed or be happier. This is out of their control.
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  • Many people with depression will turn down your offer of assistance. Don't take it personally.
  • Never tell them that their problems are stupid or that there is nothing to worry about. They'll stop talking.
  • If your friend does any of the following things, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for referrals [1-800-273-TALK(8255)] or seek immediate help.
  • Talks about "wanting to die," or "wishing it was all over."
  • Begins stockpiling medication, buys guns or gets them out of safety lockers, or does anything else to make a suicide attempt easier.
  • Begins giving away possessions.
  • Writes notes to try to "tie things up," even if they are not explicitly talking about a potential attempt.
  • Begins abusing drugs or alcohol, or eating dramatically less.
  • Many suicide attempts happen when people begin to feel slightly better, rather than in their very deepest depression. When someone is at rock bottom they may not have enough energy to do anything; when their energy starts to return, that is when they may take action.
  • Self-harm could be the precursor to thoughts of suicide, so watch them closely and continue to provide gentle encouragement and reassurance. However, self-harming does not definitely mean that a person will become suicidal, it usually indicates that a person has significant personal problems and may simply be a cry for help.
  • Depression is very serious. It often takes a professional to take care of it.
  • If you believe your friend may be at risk of harming themselves or others, take them to their doctor or a drop-in accident and emergency center.
    FOR A FULL LIST OF TIPS AND WARNINGS PLEASE VISIT HERE