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How To Help With Depression

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Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:53 pm
Kelcia says...

I'm really not sure if this is the right place for this. But it's a serious question, that needs a serious answer. I figured if I could get that anywhere, it would be here.

So, to begin with, I will give you the background. If you want to jump straight to the discussion, the main question is at the bottom.

I’ve got to say right up front, that this is rambling and driven by emotion. But I just don’t know what to do anymore.


My protective instincts are off the charts. If I’m close to anyone, my friends, my family, whatever, I’m like a mother hen. “Are you hungry? I have some snacks…” “Need an extra pencil?” And so on...

So I imagine what I feel now is how a mother feels when her child is sick, and there’s nothing she can do but wait and see if things get better.

My best friend is beset by what I call ‘gremlins’. It’s a cute term for an evil thing.
It’s depression… or something. Whatever it is, it causes her to go from, well, herself, to a depressed, unhappy, wretched version of herself. A better term for it is “an Evil Spell”. I got that from the book “Letters to Rapunzel”. It fits.

When she’s under the Evil Spell, she’s not herself. She is a naturally happy, bubbly, incredibly random person, who is the best to be around and talk to. When the spell hits, it is usually out of nowhere, or sparked by some tiny event. She starts to cry, and resents the company she secretly wants and needs. She won’t believe a word I, or any of her friends, say at the time. Her self-esteem vanishes into thin air, and her will to live goes with it. She cuts herself with whatever semi-sharp object she can find. Once I found her in the Theater Stage Shop, looking for a razor or knife. That was a bad time – the Stage shop doesn’t have little tools. I still don’t know what she was planning to do. Nothing happened, though. Her boyfriend restrained her while I took away the very large, very sharp razor-edged precision blade.

It hurts to see her that way, and to know that she’s beyond my reach. When I’m with her, I can try and help, and stop her from doing anything stupid. But it’s like she’s a million miles away, on some isolated and miserable island that I just can’t get to. Whatever I say, she won’t believe me, even though I try and try again. It’s like she’s a different person. It scares me. And, when she’s back to herself, I know it scares her too.

She has a wonderful group of friends, and, if I may say so, a wonderful boyfriend who dotes on her. And yet… When she’s under the Evil Spell, she’s always afraid that we’re going to betray her. She just can’t understand how anyone can tolerate her when she’s sick like that. How could we love her, she reasons, when she puts us through all this? The way I see it, that just means that we HAVE to love her, otherwise, we WOULDN’T put up with it. Logic, see?

When she’s herself, she recognizes that she has a problem, and does her best to deal with it. She’s in a group on Facebook that is supposed to help with this stuff. She goes to a councilor regularly. She talks to me and her other friends. She writes poetry, and really, I think that’s one of the greatest reliefs.

But I don’t know. Over the year, she’s gotten worse… it kills me to see her like that.She used to shake it off quickly, but... Now I never know, once she signs off the chat, if the depression will make her hurt herself that night. Or do the unthinkable. It terrifies me. It makes me feel useless and helpless.

So please. I know that that was rambling, but I’m confused and distraught, and need advice. What do I do?


The long-short of it:

I have a friend who suffers from frequent, long-lasting spells of severe depression. I don’t really know how to help her. How can I help her? How would you help her?

Thank you.
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Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:28 am
inkwell says...

It sounds like there might be a bipolar aspect involved. Someone I know has a daughter with similar symptoms and it's heartbreaking to watch them endure it.

This may seem overly simple but I would recommend that you show solidarity. You're in an advantageous position, being her peer, to listen to and validate her emotions. This might not need saying but also remember to heed the instructions of her doctors.
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Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:19 am
MasterGrieves says...

I agree with inkwell here. Your friend probably has bipolar.

I have bipolar too. Usually when I am in my depressed state of mind, I will often deny and not accept any help. Note that in her normal, happy state she will sometimes come across as annoying. All I will say is that her mood swings will be unpredictable.

Again, sorry for the simplicity, but you show support to her. Like ink said, heed the instructions of her doctors because it is always advised to seek medical help if you or a friend has depression. So remember: be helpful, but don't offer it too much or else she will be even more depressed.
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Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:34 pm
Kelcia says...

Thanks a lot you guys. I hadn't thought about bi-polar disorder. You've given me a lot to think about.
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Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:12 pm
Kyllorac says...

So remember: be helpful, but don't offer it too much or else she will be even more depressed.

This. Nothing makes you feel worse when depressed than having people constantly hovering over you with concern trying to make things "right". You already know something is wrong with you, and that's depressing enough. It becomes even more depressing when everyone around you knows something is wrong, and that they know and are trying to make things "right" makes everything wrong feel even more wrong because you just know they're judging you and finding you lacking.

It's also becomes very easy to resent the people trying to help you. Fine. Something's wrong with you. But having people who care about you trying to "fix" you means they don't trust you enough to take care of yourself, and/or they're forcing you to be someone you're not.

There's a difference between being there for someone and being overbearing with your caring. Make yourself available, but don't hover; let her know you're there if she needs you, but leave her the choice to come and go as she wants/needs. Listen when she needs someone to vent to, and when she asks for advice, be honest, even if the truth hurts; she probably already knows the truth, and withholding it from her in full or in part will just reinforce her sense of being lacking in everyone's eyes. After all, people generally withhold the truth to "protect" someone, and nothing's worse than realizing the people you care about/who care about you think you're too fragile to handle the truth.
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Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:25 pm
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Tenyo says...

These are some things that have helped me, so I try to do them for others.

Being depressed is horrible for self esteem, which makes the sufferer fall very quickly into a dark, dark pit. Distractions are good. I find when I feel really down sometimes I take a TV weekend, when I'll find my favourite show (something fantasy, usually,) and do nothing but watch tv and eat fast food.

Having a friend who would offer to rent out the box set and bring pizza and ice-cream would make it even better. It distracts me from the bad feelings so I don't sink into them so much and pick myself back up faster. Also, another problem depression can cause is an eating disorder, so making sure your friend eats is important. Not eating makes me sink faster.

Time away from the world to think is also important, and a weekend dedicated to TV is a great time to let things in my brain settle.

Comedy shows work well too, or just a good joke book. Anything that will lighten the mood even when I want all jolly happy things to leave me alone.

Gentle walks in the fresh air help, and that's something I wouldn't do on my own. A trip to the shop or something similar.

A random gift for no reason, like a chocolate bar appearing in my coat pocket, or someone saying 'hey, I read this book, I think it's something you'd like, so you can have it.' Something simple but sweet, that won't leave your friend feeling any obligation to return.

Spontaneous compliments like 'I really like your smile,' or 'you always seem to be there right when I need you.' Remind them of these things. I find in my darkest days it's little things like these that I hold on to. They give me a sense of purpose and a reason to pick myself back up.
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Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:59 pm
fictionfanatic says...

I had the torture of depression being imposed on me for nearly three years, consequetively. Here's my advice:

Personally, I was able to break free of it without the help of anything or anyone. It was a long, painful experience - but I had to do it. And somehow, by some will of God if their is one or by some dumb luck, I managed to claw out of it, cheat my way out of it. With nothing, no one, but myself and the music of Aerosmith to help me.

Me, I'm a lucky one. Not everyone can do this - actually, I'm not sure if anyone else HAS done this. I've never met anyone.

Your friend, I have a good friend of mine who used to be like that. She is now taking medication for depression and for her bipolar disorder. I suggest going to your friend's parents, even if you think she may hate you for it, and suggesting she get it checked out. It's scarey, I know. But if you don't, it can and will only get worse, and she could seriously get hurt.

My friend didn't talk to me for a while after I told her parents, but she realized that I'd helped her, and we're close friends again now.

Hope this helped :)
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