What to do when a loved one is depressed

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**This post is not for dealing with someone in a bad mood or having one bad day, but rather a bout of depression or the over-extended stay of a burnout. This is my experience, I am not in any way a medical practitioner. **

 

After being in a relationship for 12 years and even having friendships just as long, I have had my share of experiences with seeing someone I care for go through a tough pro-longed period.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a therapist in any way but I do consider myself to be a professional co-dependent, meaning I have battled with codependency for 95% of my entire life, so I know exactly what not to do under these circumstances.

It is incredibly difficult to live with someone and have to witness them going through a horrible patch in their life. Many of us have the primal, very real and sub-conscious instinct to “save” people and take all their pain away. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize that the only person we can actually save and have any control over is ourselves.

I personally believe that (Insert Higher Being here)   sends us the specific situations in life that we need so that we can take a step back and learn what is necessary to grow, thus clearing out our karma so that similar situations don’t continue to haunt us. I believe that once we own up to our portion, and accept our circumstances, that we are then able to take full responsibility in the fact that only we have the power to change (for better or for worse).

What we forget is that this applies to everyone around us as well. Often, we like to try to force change and induce epiphanies in people by means of control, manipulation, ultimatums, guilt and shame or belittling. We lose patience with the people we love because they are not growing at the pace that we demand, completely forgetting that they are imperfect humans, just like ourselves.

When we try to rescue people, we’re unable to recognize that it is translating into how we don’t feel they are capable of making their own decisions, take control of their own life, and inefficient in persevering in the face of difficulty. We are also robbing them of their personal growth that is essential to becoming a better person in life.

No matter how much we may want to, we cannot force someone to be aware of what is going on inside them, we cannot read minds, we cannot heal another person’s trauma, make them forgive and let go of what burdens them or create that ‘ah-ha’ moment necessary to have an epiphany. Everyone gets to this stage at the pace that is meant for them.

By trying to take on other people’s burdens we are also doing ourselves an enormous disservice. Most people already have enough on their plate handling their own affairs. If we get into the driver’s seat of another person’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being we can quickly begin to accumulate resentment and bitterness towards them- completely forgetting that it was never our business to begin with.

What we can do to help those around us is lead by example. By handling our own conundrums, seeking the professional help we need, and diving into the shadows of our inner beings to heal what lies beneath, can be incredibly inspiring and motivating to someone going through a similar situation. By facing our fears and micro-traumas we may be able to start the path to healing that others need to walk down.

We can be the listener in the relationship; someone who is completely present and holds space for another person to express themselves. There is no need to give advice, or try to finish their sentences or interrupt them with our own experiences and stories. Just be there for them and let them speak their truth without judgement.

We can also offer to accompany the person to the doctor’s or therapist’s office. We can go on an outdoor date with them so that they can reap the benefits of how nature can heal. If we stumble upon some useful information we can share it with them, but by no means are we going to take responsibility for them and do their work.

Lastly, I want to mention the importance that we really take care of ourselves during this time. Even if we are not trying to fix this person, it can still take a big toll on our own well-being. It is essential that we prioritize our self-care through diet, being in nature, journaling, maintaining faith in ourselves and through our spiritual practice and cleansing ourselves of any dark energies.

I know the feeling all too well of what its like to be depressed, in an un-shakeable rut and in the middle of grieving through pent up traumas. Let us use our experiences to shine our light in the midst of someone else’s darkness so that they too can conquer their shadows.

 

Love always,

Mabes