Best Intentions and Self-care
Having the best intentions when attempting to help someone, as many of you will have experienced, can be less than straightforward, perhaps even debilitating. Acknowledging this is important, we should check our limits and be careful of burning out and inhibiting progress towards the original goal: to help.
Sometimes having and exercising the best intentions may not be met with a welcome mat. Depression tends not to roll out the red carpet. As we become more aware of depression, more and more of us are understanding how hard it can be to accept or even respond to that sincere offer of help when depression hits.
Try to remember some of the following as you go on this journey with them. Some may prove unnecessary, this can be a painful process, so it’s useful to have these to return to when needed:
• Don’t be harsh on yourself for it not working
• Resist being direct with advice-giving
• Personal autonomy first unless the situation gets dangerously severe, e.g., intent to cause harm, suicidal ideation and so on. That is a matter for particular professional assistance
• Don’t be dogmatic, be pragmatic!
• Have patience and have patience with yourself! You are not a magic wand, don’t overload yourself
• Be there for them when you can. Be a friend. Listen, just listening can change oh so much. Hold your tongue and let them be them for a while. I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen and not merely wait for your chance to talk. It can be challenging, but it is worth it.
It is also should go without saying that it is not your responsibility to ensure this person pay their way in life. To speculate in such a fashion is irresponsible and can lead to a harmful state of being overly invested, not allowing each other out of the accumulated ‘debt’ accrued. It’s also not your responsibility to try to cure depression single-handed (remember, there is no magic wand). However, you can appreciate and acknowledge everything you have done so far to ease their pain and improve their quality of life!
What if someone does not make the best use of the materials and help given to them? Depression may be limiting them, limiting any sense of personal choice for the worse. It can be genuinely frustrating to experience offering genuine help and yet be met with an uncompliant or unbothered attitude, or worse, one that pushes against any assistance offered. Some people subconsciously thrive on staying within that depressed state, where everybody offers ‘things’ which they can then reject in order and have the status quo maintained. Change can be incredibly hard to go through, let alone envisage, enabling the familiar pain of right now to continue. And who among us who have experienced such states can’t understand that?
The point being, that in itself can be a symptom of depression. But unfortunately, the first move may have to come from the person in need; their desire to change and be ready to do the work with professionals cannot be underestimated. As terrifying as that can seem, remember that you can encourage someone to move out of the ‘one-horse town’ of a mindset they are currently in, which is 100% a good thing! The fact they could not quite manage to make it work is not on you or them! No one is to ‘blame’.
• Know when you cannot handle something and when to seek help
• Drop it. You have a responsibility to yourself and to the other people in your life too.
• Keep up your own support network: friends, family, your pet/s, general routines, stuff that makes you feel happy! You can't help someone else if you aren't in a good enough place yourself.