Yes, it’s a sore subject.
In some cultures, like ours, it’s considered a taboo. When you tell people you are depressed or that you hear and see things, they’ll run the other way, or even worse, abandon you. I’ve had my fair share of abandonment. I was depressed, well, still am. I have schizoaffective schizophrenia, which means I have both hallucinations/delusions and depression.
It sucks, really. Sometimes I wish I could wrap my head in a plastic bag and exhale my last breath. But if I do that, I won’t be able to see the new Star Wars movie.
Some people say that everyone has depression, and it’s manageable. Well, it is both true and false.
First, as common as depression is, only one in five people will experience it. Secondly, yes, it’s manageable but it takes time to adjust to having depression. Some days are bad, others are just worse. Lastly, having an immense amount of sadness is not depression, you’re just, well, super sad.
If you’re someone who is neurotypical, which means you don’t have a mental disorder, this post is for you.
This is a list of things that might help both you and your friend who is experiencing depression or any kind of mental disorder. Just a heads up, this article is not from a medical point of view, but from someone who wished his friends would do these things when he was suffering.
Sometimes, all we need is support from friends and family when we’re going through a hard time. It’s the same with depression. We don’t need anything more than just your support when we’re having a mental breakdown or a psychotic episode. You don’t need to do anything, but just be there for us. We appreciate that very much.
Two: Don’t Give Advice
When you meet someone who’s had his leg broken or even worse, cancer, do you give them advice on how to heal? I don’t think so.
We, the depressed, sometimes don’t need any advice because hell, we don’t even take our own or the doctor’s advice. Advice is good but keep in mind that sometimes it doesn’t work. Give us time to actually accept it. It’s hard dealing with our thoughts and the thoughts of others at the same time. We’ll get there.
Three: Have Patience
I’m not going to lie, we can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But know this, we don’t mean to hurt you.
The only person that we hurt intentionally is ourselves.
When we have our breakdowns and episodes, we might hurt you. We might cut you deep and all we hope is that you don’t take it personally. If you do, it’ll add more to our guilt and shame, which is never great to deal with.
Sometimes we don’t feel like talking or going out. It drains our energy and we need time to recharge. So please don’t force us to go out and have fun. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s just sometimes we don’t have the capacity to socialise, even on our best days.
Giving us space is good. We need to think and reflect. Remember, we’re not abandoning you. We just need some space for ourselves.
Five: Don’t Blame Yourself
Remember that what we’re experiencing is in no way your fault. It’s just what it is.
Don’t blame yourself for everything that’s happening, you are doing your best and we appreciate it very much. Just remember that our problem is ours alone to fix, you can help by lending a helping hand.
Six: Read Up
You will never know how it feels like to have depression, bipolar, borderline personality disorder or social anxiety until you’ve gone through it. However, you can read up on it just to get the general idea of what we go through.
Reading about it might help you understand better about the things you can’t see. Ignorance is not bliss, sometimes it tears people down.
Sometimes, we’ll have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, we want to kill ourselves. Sometimes we feel like shit and sometimes all of this is not worth it.
You, as a friend, can assure us that everything is going to be okay. You being there and assuring us that there’ll be light at the end of the tunnel when we feel like we’re trapped at both ends gives us hope. We might cry, scream, and be weepy, but it feels great to know that someone is there to give us hope.
What we need, isn’t advice, or for you to even understand us as a whole.
We need you to accept that we are different.
Accepting that your friend has a mental illness can both be good for both you and them. Acceptance is the key to a stable, understanding relationship.
That rounds up some tips you can follow to help a friend who’s experiencing any form of mental illness. Let them know that they don’t have to suffer alone. Let them know that you are there for them. Let them know that they are loved.
To those who are suffering, it’ll be okay soon, you just have to get there. Hold on.