Depression isn’t ever a choice. It often sneaks up on you when your life is going great, and pulls the rug out from under your feet.
Maybe you have a friend that struggles with anxiety or depression, maybe both.
Tonight I’d like to explain to you how they feel, and what they need from you as their friends. Their spouse. Their Mother. Their Father.
Growing up, seasons of my childhood I watched my Mother suffer from severe depression. I noticed how my Dad cared for her, and loved her through it. Many a night I would watch my Dad read scripture to my Mom as she lay in bed. I’ve never witnessed such a compassionate, and relentless love in my whole life.
He never stopped fighting for her when she was weak.
In this I learned what a depressed person needed.
Here is what they do not need:
- You to tell them this will pass. They know that. Right now they are in the thick flames of hell.
What they do need from you:
- For you to treat them as a normal person. Because they ARE. They are a living, breathing, feeling PERSON. It is much like a sickness, they cannot control how they are feeling at any given moment.
- They cannot snap out of depression, so meet them right where they are.
There are certain times in relationships where things get hard to communicate, and to interact. This gets especially hard when the person you are friends with is depressed.
It is our human nature to back away. To feel afraid that we cannot meet this person’s need. After all, what if you have never been depressed? You have no idea what this feels like. Perhaps you cannot help this person you love.
This is a common mistake.
Loving someone means loving them in every season. The good , the bad and the ugly.
I cannot even count on one hand how many friends of mine that have ” backed off” from communicating with me when my life gets hard.
Losing a baby, battling anxiety attacks, these things scare people that have never experienced them for themselves.
Let’s put depression in the place of cancer, just for a moment.
If your friend Donna suddenly had breast cancer, wouldn’t you be more prone to help her, love on her and show her compassion?
Now replace Donna’s cancer with depression issues.
Both severe. Both life threatening. Both difficult, and both out of our control as humans.
Depression and anxiety make you feel alone. It’s easy when you are dealing with these things to want to isolate yourself. To push people away that do not understand what you are going through.
Just like any other hardship in your life, your friends that suffer from mental illnesses need you present. They need you to love on them.
They do not want your sympathy, they just want your compassion.
They just want a friend on the days that it’s hard to get out of their beds.
Though we may not experience first hand the things that our friends are going through, it’s important to try ( please try ) to put ourselves in their shoes for a moments time.
To visualize what it would be like to be depressed, to lack hope.
Empathy goes a long way when it comes to things you have never gone through personally.
Please understand that even though they are suffering from depression, this does not mean they are weak. Or strange. Or dangerous ( yes I’ve heard that one before ).
I challenge you to reach out to the people in your life that are dealing with things you’ve never dealt with. Love on them how you see fit. But love on them in a way that shows compassion for their situation.
Do something. It takes five minutes out of your day to send an encouraging text message. To drop off supper for a struggling Mother. To hug a friend that’s battling depression.
All they want from you is this:
Acceptance for where they are.