This guide will not work with everyone.
Dealing with someone who is suffering from depression is not hard. It’s really not. It might seem like it but it really is quite simple. Here’s what you do.
Step 1: STOP TRYING TO FIX IT – depression cannot be fixed, it can be managed, medicated, and a thousand other m words but it cannot be fixed. Ceaselessly trying to fix it will make it much worse and I suspect that’s how murder suicides happen. Someone continuously tries to fix it and the depressed person gets so frustrated that they take the life of the other person and then their own. Someone trying to fix you when you are depressed worsens the depression making it deeper, darker, and infinitely more depressed. Fixing worsens the depression which can be very very dangerous.
Step 2: Yes, there is actually a step two, remember that unless this is someone very new to depression stop trying to help. If they want to be left alone – LEAVE THEM ALONE. If they’ve dealt with depression for any length of time, they know what is best for them. They are attempting to cope with something that you cannot imagine, fathom, or would like to understand.
Step 3: Stop asking if you can help. I know this seems counter intuitive but…if they knew what would help they would do it. Stop asking it gets really annoying really fast, reread steps one and two for this one.
Step 4: Do what the depressed person asks you to. Trust me, if they think of something that you can do to help they will ask for it. That is unless you’ve already tried to fix it so often that they feel asking you for something that they need will only make it worse. If this is true refer to step 3
What the depressed person is doing is self medicating which very often is better that self harming or suicide. If they ask for pink grapefruits give it to them. If they ask for anything they are asking for help but not the kind of help that involves step 1. Remember you can’t fix it but maybe pink grapefruits at that very moment might make them a bit better. If they ask for alcohol, give it to them (yes I know alcoholics anonymous has just taken a hit out on me). As long as what they are asking for is not deadly or illegal, give it to them. If they ask for anything and it is not illegal or deadly give it to them, they are allowing you to help them.
Step 5: Make sure they have hydration and a bit of food every day. Don’t force them to eat, don’t make a big deal out of it. Leave water on the bedside table or a little something to snack on. Mine is crackers and fresh fruit and veggies just to give you an example. Offer them a shower make it easy for them to get the things that they need to survive. If you feel tempted to insist on something again, refer to step 1.
Step 6: Do not force them to do anything. Imagine someone forcing you to do something when you have the flu or just found out your best friend, dog, and truck just died. Forcing a depressed person to get out of bed when they want to sleep is a very very bad idea. It reinforces the very thing they are trying to stop. Remember they are trying to pull themselves out of it. They know the depression, introduced themselves, and asked it if it likes sugar in its coffee when it has come over uninvited.
Step 7: Remember that they are adults. They’ve been dealing with something that you cannot imagine for longer that you’ve known about it. They can in fact make decisions for themselves. They’ve done this before. Even if you have depression remember as we are all individuals, each person’s depression is different, and each person’s way of coping with it is different.
Step 8: Always remember when a depressed person is pushed too far, they will do anything to make it stop. If they’ve learned a way to deal with it that doesn’t allow them to get to that point, let them use it. Depression is dangerous, a person pushed too far is dangerous, not add those two facts together.
I have suffered from depression most of my life. It’s an old friend, I know how mine likes its coffee, I know what its thinking. I know its goals. Its goal is to kill me, my goal is to stop it from doing just that. I know what to do when my brain starts to go sideways. Please let me do it because doing the wrong thing is so much worse than not doing anything at all.