Awareness of depression is on the rise. You only have to open up social media and you’ll find hundreds of mental health advocates. Since awareness is on the rise it is being recognised more and thankfully we can open up the conversation about it. But there are still parts of the illness that people don’t seem to consider or at least they don’t talk about it as much. Consider for a moment the toll it takes on those who love the sufferer.
There is of course plenty of useful advice on how to care for a sufferer of depression and how to help them through it. Helpguide.org suggest being a compassionate listener. It also suggests encouraging the sufferer to seek help but what it doesn’t do is address just how mentally and emotionally exhausting it can be to watch someone you love battle depression. I’m not for a minute belittling the experience of the sufferer but I do feel the experience of those closest to them isn’t taken into account as much as it should. It is indeed a battle they are fighting – be it a parent, sibling, friend or lover – and it is a battle you cannot join them in no matter how much you would like to. True clinical depression is such that there is nothing you can say or do that will cheer them up. It is more than feeling a little melancholy. It is incredibly painful to see them stuck in their misery like a prison when all you can do is encourage them to seek help. I am so glad that there is more help springing up daily because with the fast pace of the modern world and an increasing detachment from from the human touch means it is needed more than ever. It means suggested a depressed loved one seeks help is getting easier to do.
What happens when it becomes even more severe? I those reading this have never had someone you love tell you that the can’t see any future for themselves and they want to take their own life. Suicide is a very real risk for depression sufferers but losing someone close to it, knowing there was nothing all of your love and support couldn’t pull them back? A sentence in it’s own way.
Helpguide.org suggests like airline staff advise ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’. You can’t be available 24/7 and giving all of yourself will only make your own mental health suffer.
You want to help. You want to pull them through but sometimes you’re only left with platitudes like, “look on the bright side,” or “we all get a little depressed sometimes.” These are no good, probably more harmful really, but when a loved one is on the edge of life and seeing nothing but darkness you’ll try anything.
There will be support out there for carers. There certainly is advice on how to handle it. Truthfully I have only just begun to scratch the surface but I thought it may be helpful to some out there to open up the discussion. Whether we care to admit it or not taking care of someone close through depression is frustrating and it can make you angry with them. You know they can’t help it but you have your own emotional responses to deal with.
Rather than get angry, make yourself sick with worry or worse give up on them I would like to see more support for depression carers. Depression – as difficult as it is – doesn’t just affect the sufferer alone.
If you are affected by the issues in this article visit:
Vivika tackles the issues of depression and suicide in her award winning short story THE GRIP. Click HERE to read.