Mental health affects us all. Sometimes we can be feeling great, other times we can be feeling the exact opposite. It affects us in varying degrees with some people experiencing far more dark times than good. When you know someone who has been affected by a mental health condition (depression, anxiety, PND etc) it can be difficult to know what to say or even how to act around that person. So if you have a friend or family member who is having a rough time at the moment, hopefully these tips will help you to be there for them.
Firstly, understand that your friend or family member is still the same person. They haven’t changed just because they have said “I have depression”. So are you worried about what to say to them? Well don’t be. They don’t really know what they want to hear so you don’t need to worry about saying the right or wrong thing. Speak from your heart. Speak from that place that loves them more than words can actually ever describe. If that means saying “I really don’t know what to say to make it better” then say that. Just be honest and be yourself.
You cannot “hurt” them by what you say. We often hold ourselves back because we don’t want to upset anyone any further or do any damage. But when you are speaking from your heart, with the intention to help and support them, you cannot hurt them. Not saying anything or acknowledging them will actually hurt them. It’s better to say something seemingly silly (although there is really no such thing) than nothing at all.
Words can be overrated. Just being with them, holding space for them, listening to what they need to say, being a shoulder to cry on – these are HUGE acts of love and support. So don’t put loads of pressure on yourself to say something. Simply by being with them and showing them they aren’t alone can be enough.
Finally, educate yourself. Do some research so that you can get a little bit more insight. Having that knowledge will give you the confidence to talk to them as well as a bit more understanding of what it can be like to live with a mental illness. It will also show them how much you care.
Hopefully the above tips can help to bring down any barriers between you and your loved one. Ultimately they just need your love and support and to know that you are there for them.
Let’s keep talking about mental health and asking our friends and family if they are OK. You will never know if you never ask.
Take care of yourself xx
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