This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. So, we wanted to try and address the people who do not suffer with mental health but know somebody who does or is perhaps suspicious of someone suffering. This post is mainly focused on depression but may help people with anxiety and other forms of mental illness.
Recently in the past few years many people within the media have taken their own lives, everyone is always shocked because 'they never appeared to be suffering'. When this happens, everyone will post about how you don't know what is really going on in people’s heads. And it's great that people are saying that, because it's true. But I feel like these people don't really mean it, or they can't take that and apply it to the people they actually know, to their own children and relatives. I understand it's hard to look at someone who you love and perceive to be full of life and then discover that inside something in them is rotting and dark.
But if that person turns around and admits; their suffering to you, that they want help, that they've began to get help from a doctor etc. The worst thing you can do is tell them that they don't need it, or make them feel little, ashamed or stupid for being on medication. You might not see their suffering because it's likely they have spent years mastering how to hide it from you. If you do not understand, tell them so and ask them to explain further, remain calm and try not to let your own emotions negatively impact their opening up
But don't tell them they don’t have depression, or depression isn’t real or something along those lines, because it will break a certain trust they have in you and they will isolate themselves further. They will continue suffering alone. If someone is opening up to you it is more than likely a huge step for them, something they have been trying to pluck up the courage to do for a long time.
However maybe they haven't reached out to you yet. These are some basic traits that you should be aware of within someone that can be caused by their depression. What you should also be aware of, is that somebody may not display these traits often, or maybe ever. Everyone is different, someone could appear completely full of life and energy in front of you but it doesn't mean that when they're alone they're not feeling lifeless, worthless, suicidal, so many different things.
- · Under / over eating
- · Irritable - someone snapping at you, getting angry is likely because of their low mood
- · Quietness - not wanting to talk
- · Them appearing to not be focused on conversation, activities, work and tasks
- · Struggle with concentration
- · Tiredness - constant fatigue
If you are suspicious that somebody is suffering the best thing you can do is constantly show you are there for them and that you love them. Maybe you already are aware that a friend or family member is depressed.
People with depression can be difficult, especially when you become someone that they open up to frequently, but continuing to be there, to show you care and to simply listen will mean more than you could know. Depression is isolating, it makes the person feel alone, they could be surrounded by friends and family that deeply deeply love them but they will still feel alone. It's their mind making them feel worthless and unloved. Don't think your love is unwanted or unappreciated by someone suffering because that isn't the case. You have to remember they have an illness, that causes them to feel and think this way. It is all consuming. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.
For friends and family, I recommend you read through this page on the Mind website and dig a bit deeper into mental health.
In world where we're ruled by film, I thought it might be helpful to share some films to watch to help you understand mental health:
- · It's Kind of A Funny Story
- · Girl, Interrupted
- · The Sweet Life
- · To The Bone