Monday, September 24, 2018

Let's Talk About Depression: A Conversation Overdue

Depression is a common disorder that affects so many of us. It is a disease that hides beneath misunderstanding, stigma and our need to keep the status quo. What can anyone do for some one that is depressed? It's a difficult subject to approach, especially if you are not familiar it.

I Get Sad Sometimes Too: That's usually the first thing people say and it comes from concern and lack of understanding of the problem. Sadness is a biproduct of depression but it is not depression from my experience.

The way I would describe depression is an absence of the self. What if you could do something that would normally bring you joy and instead of feeling joy you feel nothing. The worst place to be depressed is your favorite place, doing something you love and all you feel is absent.

The initial thought is you will never feel anything or enjoy anything again. If you are without joy and you have everything you want, it doesn't seem like there is any hope.

What do you say to someone who is depressed? So instead of focusing on what not to say, what should the conversation sound like? First, you are not going to fix this for the person, one or two words or even a conversation is not going to solve the problem. All you can hope for is offering some relief for the symptoms.

Be patient: The person who is suffering with depression is looking for relief and is definitely feeling anxious for it to stop. Assure them the feeling will pass, it will get better and assure them the repetition of the same words and thoughts are not an aggravation.

When you are in this state you will try to touch all different thoughts and aspects of how you feel in order to explain the feeling. I have found myself repeating the same question, the same thought. The person listening needs to listen, not judge, not interrupt or decide it's time to get over it.

Ask questions instead of giving answers: Realize the person on the outside of the depressive state usually can not give a defining answer, it is a chemical imbalance or the brains state of trying to recover, often there is no one answer or fix.

Expand on thoughts, memories, hurts and joy-where ever the conversation goes, you are simply the wall that the depressive person can bounce ideas and feelings off in an effort to unravel the mass of feelings. I have noticed it's not just one thing, it tends to be a long and complicated tangle of all kinds of feelings, hurts and fears.

Get Active: Take your friend or family member for a walk while discussing the problem or feeling. Enjoy something outside in nature and realize they are not going to necessarily feel better, again you are only seeking small bits of relief.

A person suffering from depression will usually want to withdraw and sleep, inactivity is often a symptom of the soul licking its wounds. Activity and sunlight can definitely change that, go outside, get lunch, try to exercise against the initial thought.

When I was in college my room mate would insist we go swimming and my initial thought was always not today. I would go and I would thank him for insisting as afterwards I would enjoy a bit of relief. Exercise is actually the one definitive, temporary relief.

A friend in Need: This is not about you but really it could and should be. What a strange thought but if you can shift the focus to your own experiences without preaching and attempt to show the person in the state of depression that you might relate to their state it can often be comforting. The depressed person will usually ask questions, they will seek your experience.

I've noticed when I talk about someone and their problems it not only takes me out of my own darkness but it gives me a bit of insight. As you explain to someone else that there is hope and it's not the end of the world, your own mind and soul can often benefit from standing outside of the initial feeling.

Some companion pieces by Artbygordon

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