Depression: what to say to comfort/help people?

 Viner Cent (@Viner-Cent)6 years, 2 months ago

Hey guys,
so, when I am talking/writing to people with depression, I somehow always have to write the same things. One that is really bothering me, becaue I know it isn’t helping (allthough it is true) is: It is going to be better/after a valley comes a mountain/after the ebb comes the flood… I guess you see where I am heading. What is there appropiate I can say to help and comfort people? What do you do? I just want to help and feel helpless, if that makes any sense ;)
Thank you for your reply, maybe we can pool some thoughts here, it would defenitly help many people!
Best wishes,
Vincent

April 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm
O’Quigs (1) (@Quigs) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

Feeling helpless can work for you or it can create problems for you. Must you always have the answer for others? How about you feel compassion and empathy and feel that sense of fulfillment? Having the answer isn’t what another needs. Compassion and support, acknowledge the person’s journey and honor that. That is your gift.

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Tone Tone (71) (@spreadthelove) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

Good shit dawg.

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ari (4) (@arrii) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

Sometimes all I ever need someone to do is listen. i have a hard time putting my thoughts and emotions into words. Making it hard to express myself and when I have mental breakdowns all I ever want is someone who’ll listen. I don’t want them to comment or judge. Just listen.

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Tone Tone (71) (@spreadthelove) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

I’ve been handling this all wrong. I always try to inject some advice that I hope will turn things around. And it always comes off preach-y and never helps at all. I am eager to take this approach and see how well it is received. Thanks.

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Ellie (1,363)M (@tangledupinplaid21) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

took the words right out of my mouth.

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Anonymous (2) (@) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

I respect you and your process. I have faith for you to feel well again. It takes courage to confront your feelings. You don’t have to pretend around me. You are welcome to share things with me whenever. Your needs are okay. I’m glad that I know you. 

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teaflower (15) (@teaflower) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

I would like to be able to tell you that I’ve found the perfect thing to say. But I don’t really think there is any one thing we can say that will help everyone, to be honest.

I had a very best friend, I’d known him since kindergarten. In the 8th grade he attempted suicide for the first time. He survived and told me he just couldn’t be bothered anymore. He couldn’t find a point to living. He accepted that everyone he loves is going to die, and he is going to die, too. He didn’t feel like waiting around. Later that year he tried again and was diagnosed with severe depression.

He and I both dropped out of high school in tenth grade, because we were bored and just wanted to do what we wanted. We had a fantastic time. He was the happiest he’d ever been, he told me. We smoked a lot of weed. We drank a lot of alcohol. It was carefree and I think that’s what he needed. He just needed to breathe and do nothing more than what he wanted.

Eventually it got gray again. He was homeless, so I set him up to stay for a week at a friend’s apartment while I looked for a more permanent solution. He attempted suicide later that week. He said it was because he didn’t feel like he belonged, and he felt like a burden to everyone.

On December 30th, 2014; my very best friend attempted suicide one last time. I hadn’t talked to him since November so I can’t tell you why it happened this time. He’s gone now, he was 20.

I’m sharing my story not to bum you out, but to try to explain with certainty that we can’t save anyone, we can only love them. You can be there for all the people with depression in the world, but please, if this should happen to someone you’re trying to help, don’t take it as your fault or begin wondering what you should have done differently. 

Of all the things we’re taught to say, I can’t think of any one thing that can help everyone. One universal thing that seems to help everyone though, is just showing you’re there and you’re not leaving them. Sometimes all a person needs is someone who they feel really understands them, someone they can talk to about anything. Then you’ll know that whatever happens, this person will come to you first. (:

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Tone Tone (71) (@spreadthelove) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

This shit is so fuckin’ deep and I thank you so much for it. Sorry for your loss.

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teaflower (15) (@teaflower) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

You’re welcome, and thank you. Grieving is a difficult and long process, but Pink Floyd’s I Wish You Were Here and having friends who were also attached to him helps quite a bit (:

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Viner Cent (50) (@Viner-Cent) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

Thank you for all your answers, you opened my eyes. I heard my times people often do not want a solution but only comfort and I failed to really realise that. One thing that really gets me every time, is how unsuspected suicide attemps happen. One really nice (but quite) guy from my psychologie classes fell (or jumped, nobody knows) in front of a train (he had great luck, nothing severe happened to him, “only” some broken ribs), and nobody ever suspected that happening. Since then he has been missing and is probably in psychological treatment. I guess the only thing we can do is offer comfort and lend them a hand in climbing out of their emotional hole, but they will have to grab it and pull themselves out. Thank you for all your great responses.

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JonH (1,139)C (@IJesusChrist) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

You need to speak to them, not at them.

See them, listen, and hear. Realize that they don’t see the ‘ebb’ after the flood. They don’t see the ‘ying’ after the ‘yang’ – if they did, they wouldn’t be depressed. 

Are they bored? Are they hopeless? Are they alone?

Depression is first and foremost an addiction. Nobody wants to admit this, and there in lies a large problem – you can’t realize you’re addicted to being depressed unless you consider it. 

People remain depressed because they feel (albeit oddly so) safe there. They feel like they know this feeling, and in a way, they feel powerful. Depression makes you feel as if you know things others don’t:

“That guy is happy because he doesn’t REALIZE there is no meaning!”

It puts oneself on a pedestal, and puts knowledge as power within their grasp. They become powerful to their own world, and that is where the addiction lies.

Of course, this isn’t something you tell them unless they are on the path to healing. They will fight this realization quite heavily, I assure you. If a depressed person bickers with any support, they are not on a healing path. Ask them: Do they want to be happy. If they reply no, you must tell them, then it is in their own doing and their own will in which they find a path. Depression removes the ability to see happiness as a choice. Depression explains that happiness is something divine that can only be obtained to those worthy – or those in divine settings and scenarios.

The only things you can really tell a person are this; Happiness is a choice, as well as depression. Depression takes no effort to sit in, while happiness takes action, it requires initiation. Depression begets depression and happiness begets happiness. And more applicable to life is, depression stems from one’s involvement with earth/the world. So changes are required. Move houses, seriously. Catapult yourself into the unknown. Travel. Change schools. Join a club. Join a sport. Change is the impetus for growth in the mind, and change within the mind often leads to more positive feelings. 

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Anonymous (2) (@) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

I think this has a lot of truth to it, especially for people who have been stuck for a long time. but I also think that many “depressed” people are experiencing a real grieving process, whether it be from growing up and having realizations or reacting to trauma in their life. In a lot of cases sitting with devastation is the strongest thing one can do. 

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JonH (1,139)C (@IJesusChrist) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

If they were able to identify it as a grieving process, for the reasons you pointed out, much growth would come. However, often times depression steeps in the subconscious, and we’re unable to identify the true reason for our sadness or disconnection – thus our “clinical depression” becomes a symptom of the true problem.

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parveen (0) (@parvee) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

suppose your dead body somewhere from your future telephone you now and asks for donation of some of your life energy to celebrate and party, would u be selfish enough to disregard this request. celebrate the coming future, live the present, fuck off depression rather do some analytic study of ur psyche and advise others…

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Ellie (1,363)M (@tangledupinplaid21) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

I got to work at 3pm yesterday and was supposed to get off at 11pm. Well the overnight guy came in and said his daughter was in the hospital with a heart problem, and then about 20 minutes later he got a text that she passed away. So he was in shock and all fucked up about it obviously. I could not think of one word to say, I just kinda sat there in stunned silence and let him process it and tried to get the manager to come in and cover the shift so he could go home.

The manager didn’t come so I told the guy, I’ll stay here with you and if you want to talk you can talk, if not you can stay quiet, and if you want to go home, I’ll stay and work the shift for you.. And I left it at that. He wanted to focus on work and stuff, so I let him and we talked about stuff like that. We even joked around and kept it light and what not and made a ridiculously silly video of me throwing a stack of money into the air behind the desk.

He was really grateful that I was just here, I didn’t have any magic words to offer or anything except my presence and I could tell it meant something and helped ever so slightly.

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Viner Cent (50) (@Viner-Cent) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

This is… aweful. And still I somehow am glad you could help him. Losing your kids is literally the worst thing that can happen to you, I can not imagine anything worse. 

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MonkeyZazu (1,865)M (@monkeyzazu) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

Give them your love, support, and presence. Let those things be their warmth during that cold, dark period of their life.

On helping them get better, first realize that everyone’s depression is different to some extent and varies in intensity. What was true and what worked for one person, might not be helpful to another.

Your general purpose is to be a ‘beam of light’ that they can use to guide themselves out of that dark cloud of thought they’re stuck in. You can do this through relating their experiences to your own, which makes them not feel so alone in their predicament. Even though it may be painful, continuously try to have them surface and release whatever thoughts they’re holding on to.   

And it’s ok if what they’re dealing with is too much for you. Never be afraid to get others involved if need be.

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Viner Cent (50) (@Viner-Cent) 6 years, 2 months ago ago

This is really poetic and it is so true. Thank you a lot, everybody, you helped me understanding this. People do not need solutions, that was my great mistake. People need warmth and comfort. I am lost for words, and that was allready stated before, that had to happen. You guys are awesome, awesome and wise. 

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apricelessgoat (34) (@aworthlessgoat) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

I’m very similar to @teaflower‘s friend in that, I feel like life is meaningless and I really am such a bother to be around because of my severe depression. I can’t kill myself cuz I guess my survival instinct is just too strong to inflict any real intentional damage to myself but I think about dying and how much easier it would be than living very often. I don’t see the point to living at all and it seems like so many people are just straight up monsters. And the rest are the victims of those monsters living with even more pain than me. How can this world be anything special when we’re this close to killing ourselves off at any second?

There’s nothing you can say to change my mind or my depression. I’m highly aware and I know that there are good things and people and I have had plenty of mountains and valleys. It’s not that I don’t know there’s a mountain coming, it’s that I know the drop after it is gonna hurt like hell.

I feel all depressed people have two things in common; 1. They have had shitty people and shitty situations in their lives and have either been hurt directly or watched a lot of people they care about get hurt. 2. They have reached the end of philosophy and realized that life is truly meaningless. Make your own meaning kind of people just further solidify that it all doesn’t matter. Most of the psychos and harmful people have chosen their own meaning. Depressed people like me feel it’s just really hopeless to try and change anything. No matter what you do life is a circle and for all the love and happiness there is just as much misery and pain. Often it seems like the latter heavily outweighs the former. I guess someone could realize that and take it two ways, either life is hopeless so why bother or life is hopeless so just do what you want. The system in America does not easily let people do what they want though. People doing what they want does not make compliant worker bees.

So you can’t change them but their are still things that make depressed people happy. Some things that make me happy are
– Spending time with actual friends (most of which aren’t around where I live anymore)
– Escaping from reality (weed, video games, dreams, movies, psychedelics, etc)
– Really intense adrenaline that brings me to a crazy insane level of thing from competition or fighting or sex
– Complaining about stuff and people telling me I’m right, to which I jokingly reply, “I’m not happy about it”

I could be living in a palace, surrounded by friends and all the things and food I could ever want. I could share my wealth with as many people as I could afford and I’d still be thinking about all the suffering and pain in the world. There’s too many people getting raped, murdered, robbed, beaten, taken advantage of by bullshit, forced into slavery for US. There should be no war anymore.

I’ll be happy when there is actual peace on Earth and humanity has some sort of direction, AKA space travel or possibly internal travel, since those are the only two ways left to go. But I know all humans will never be like that and space travel is such a long way off that it will likely never happen.

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Viner Cent (50) (@Viner-Cent) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

Okay, so I tried writing a solution to everything you wrote here again and then I noticed my mistake. I saved it on my PC, and I am asking you, do you want somebody to try to change your mind? You seem to be one of those cases @ijesuschrist mentioned, you at first sight seem to be addicted to your negative feelings. Do you want me to try?

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apricelessgoat (34) (@aworthlessgoat) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

I feel that these negative feelings are a perfectly normal reaction to this society and my life. I could delude myself into thinking everything is ok but it really isn’t. What’s worse is that when I am happy people naturally give me power and assume I’m a leader, then I become corrupt so easily. I’ll just take what I want and break mad hearts. I think I am better off being more on the negative side.

But you can try if you want

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teaflower (15) (@teaflower) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

I’m so sorry to hear that! I’m at a loss because I do see my friend in you, and that makes me wish I could help you where I failed him. He would go from high to high, and when he wasn’t high he’d be looking for the next one. If you have an ounce of hope left in you, I urge you to try therapy. With someone who will never suggest an antidepressant. Try anything at all. You deserve a chance to find real happiness, too. The one regret I have is that my friend never truly did. His valleys haunted him, too.

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apricelessgoat (34) (@aworthlessgoat) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

My mom keeps saying I should try therapy too lol. Buut I don’t have health insurance even though I signed up for it well before the last date they gave me. But when I signed up they were all out of plans for this year so maybe next year..

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marthevw (1) (@marthevw) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

Hi,

As someone who has suffered/is still suffering from (clinical) depression, I have encountered a lot of unhelpful but also helpful things. 
Giving advice does not work. In my case, it made me feel like a failure. Because to the person giving advice it seemed as if there was something I could change to make it better. But I could not do that, because I did not know the reason why I was feeling like shit. 
The most important thing is to let someone know that you are there. That they can call, write you at any time. Going outside for a walk seemed to help me for a while, if I was feeling restless and unsettled, but I did not feel safe by my own. Doing it with a friend made it bearable. 

Do not act as if you know it all. Do not put pressure on someone to get them to talk. At my lowest point I could not find the words to describe how I felt anymore. And it made me feel even more desperate if there was someone asking me questions on how I felt. I didn’t know anymore, all I knew was that it was a feeling that I would not even wish for my greatest enemies. 

– Being there, via phone, but also sitting next to someone can be a way to show support. 
– Let them talk. Just listen. I know that giving advice is meant well, but it used to give me a sense of failure. 
– Do not avoid the subject of suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask. Talking helps. You will not push them over the edge by talking about it. 

Hope you find some of this useful.

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Boy Under the Bridge (362) (@boyunderbridge) 6 years, 1 month ago ago

Encourage them to express without being judged. The feelings are better out than in. I’ve been keeping my thoughts written down here

amazing to look back and see how season they can be

 http://boyunderthebridge.com/category/darker-days/

Darker Days

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