In this part of the series, I had wanted to give you what I believe to be some good ways to deal with depression as a family member of a depressed person in this blog. However, because I got a question that I believe a lot of you may have and have not voiced, and because I should have said it in Part 1, I decided to answer it prior to giving my advice.
Normal depression occurs to everyone. We are all human, we all get down at sometime about several different things. It doesn’t usually last more than a few days maximum.
Clinical Depression a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act (UHS Tang Center). It can take over your life if left untreated.
Manic Depression, or Bi-Polar disorder is a type of Clinical Depression, but is defined by the depressed person having periods of deep depression instantaneously morphing into periods of elation (mania).
I hope that helped clear things up a bit. In these blogs I’m referring to Clinical Depression.
So now I will move onto my advice for those of you who are experiencing depression within your families.
I did a bit of research for this one, because I wanted to compile a great list of sure-fire ways to improve your situation. Unfortunately I came up with this conclusion – there is no sure-fire way to do this. As I mentioned in my previous blogs, depression is different in every patient – there is no cookie cutter process and therefore no cookie cutter cure.
However, there are things you can do regardless of the symptoms that would help YOU and help the depressed person in the long run. I never said this will be easy – in fact the only thing I can guarantee you is that it won’t.
1) Be sympathetic. This does not mean fawn over the person – it means realize that something is wrong, that they cannot control it but that their issues are very real to them
2) Be supportive. They will cry. They will cry often. They will come up with hair-brained ideas. They will blame you. They will blame themselves. Just be supportive. Be there for your loved one – listen to them when they try to talk, hold them when they just want to cry, try to get them to participate in everyday life.
3) Do not become the scapegoat. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This means respect yourself and stand up for yourself. Do not let them blame you for everything that is going on. This is not your fault. Yes, you have to look after them, but you have to look after yourself first. First rule of lifesaving is to ensure YOU are safe first – else you can’t save others.
4) Find someway to release your pain. Whether it be by an anonymous blog, a diary or a confidant in a friend or family member. Be honest in your release about EVERYTHING you are thinking – even if it is how evil your family member has become. Don’t hold back because you’ll just be holding onto resentment for the situation and the depressed person. Let it go and you will find yourself better able to handle the “drama” and better able to help yourself during the situation.
5) Give and get as much love as you possibly can. You’re going to need it and the depressed person needs to feel it even if they don’t realize it until after all the “drama” is done. Hugs are healthy for everyone.
6) Try to keep your temper. Your family member will not. They will scream at you. They will completely verbally abuse you at times. Just remember they are not in control and that by striking back you will exacerbate the situation. This does not mean that you become the scapegoat. Defend yourself but in a logical manner.
7) Learn as much as you can. Try to find good resources on the disease. Dust off your library card, learn how to use the internet or learn how to find journals online and read them! Join a community outreach group or a forum online about depression. You may also find a lot of support there for your situation.
8) Be brave enough to know and recognize when you need help. No man is an island – especially in a situation like this. You may need help if the person gets completely out of hand – if they try to commit suicide, if they attack you physically or if they disappear without warning for example. Know who you can depend on and know who to call if any of these things should happen.
I also wanted to stress that I haven’t experienced depression as a family member – only as the depressed person, therefore I am giving you advice as I best I could – but this is by no means a medical or sure solution. I believe this will help YOU in the long run and therefore may help create more peace in your life as you go through this ordeal.