Tag Archives: how to help

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas for Supporting People Who Hurt

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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picture from MELOD12 on rgbstock.com

When someone speaks of a friend or loved one who is currently struggling with depression, what follows most often is, “I’ll leave them alone. They need their space.”

To me, that may be the saddest myth about emotional stress. Depression is the number one common denominator across all human suffering. Very few people want to be left alone in the midst of that kind of pain.

The question left for supports is, how do I let this person know I care without getting in over my head? Here are three categories from which to choose.

Include the person with depression whenever possible, but do not expect him or her to keep up right away. 

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas

You have more time and energy to spare:

  • offer to find a doctor or therapist; take them to first visit
  • laundry/ housework help 
  • mow the lawn, shovel the snow, plant flowers
  • offer or arrange childcare 
  • give kids/youth rides to school/events
  • help with a move
  • help with a holiday – decorating, cooking…
  • meet regularly for Bible study
  • start a neighborhood Bible Study
  • organize a meal train
  • rides to doctor/therapist appointments 
  • read aloud and finish a book
  • help with taxes, budgeting
  • show the ropes in legal affairs
  • go to the bank for or with, and other errands
  • take time to study and learn about someone’s specific issue

You have less time and room for change in your routine:

  • phone calls, snail mail
  • food. material, or financial donations
  • visit in the hospital
  • gather and offer resources
  • invite this person to join you in your day’s plans
  • take a lonely person with you grocery shopping, out to a sale, or an exhibition
  • wash a car or take it to the car wash
  • ask good questions, actively listen
  • offer an invitation to join your family for dinner
  • change a flat tire
  • play a video game together online
  • watch a pet
  • drop off a meal/dish
  • invite to your favorite sporting event or your son’s little league game
  • watch tv together
  • grab a coffee together

You have little time and energy to spare:

  • encourage mutual friends to participate
  • send flowers or a fruit basket with a nice note
  • give a small yet thoughtful gift
  • pick up packages off the porch for safe-keeping
  • leave an encouraging note  
  • collect the mail
  • messenger, texts, social media, emails
  • cell phone calls on the run
  • pray, let this person know you are praying.
  • make those small connections if your paths cross. “I’m glad to see you.”
  • touch (with their permission- a hug, pat on the back, squeeze an arm)
  • make eye contact, smile, shake a hand warmly
  • inquire about his or her feelings and day. Tell about your day.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Thessalonians 5:14

“…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Suicide Prevention – What NOT to Say or Do

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Attention:  (If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I recommend you not read this particular article. Instead, go to a survivors of suicide support site.)

If you are reading this because you want to know the best possible ways to prevent suicide, you are not alone. Many family members and friends, if not most, who find that a loved one has fallen into a deep pit of despair, try their best to help.  Love is not the only solution, however.  Stigma guides most people instead of facts.  For that reason, I am glad you are here.

Suicide prevention is a recurring theme at Always The Fight Ministries. After seven years, my point of view on suicide prevention has not changed. We prevent attempts and deaths by increasing effective support for those who hurt. The key to providing effective support is knowledge.  

This is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S.A.  Suicide is scary as a topic and reality.  Fear can lead us to a thirst for knowledge, or we may hide, or try to make difficulties disappear by using anger.  Here are some of the UNhelpful reactions to severe depression and suicide that I have witnessed or heard, or heard about.   

What to Avoid:  Vitriol, Distance, Distrust, and Bewilderment 

Vitriol

A suicidal person asked a family member to dole out their sleeping pills for safety reasons. Instead, the family member placed the full bottle on the night stand next to the one who was struggling to stay alive.   

“Why save lives? If someone wants to die, why not let him kill himself and decrease the surplus population?” 

“[He] was weak. With all that money, he could have got help. He was totally selfish.”

Distance 

“It is none of our business.”

“Don’t you play the suicide card with me!”

“I don’t know what to say or do.  I’ll leave him alone – he needs his space.”

“If I mention suicide,  I might push her toward it. We won’t talk about it.”

Distrust 

“If someone can hurt himself or herself,  he or she must be capable of violence. This same person might “snap at any time”  and harm someone else!”   [I cannot count how many times I have heard this misinformation.] 

“I do not believe in mental health disability. I just don’t!”

“Depression is not an illness. It is just self-pity.”

“Suicidal thinking is caused only by demons that have to be cast out. Then the person is fine.”

“People who attempt suicide and don’t die, didn’t mean it. They just want attention.”

Bewilderment

One spouse pleaded and shouted in frustration because her husband was hiding in a closet, too depressed to face the world. 

“How can I fix my depressed husband?”

“She attempted so many times, it’s just manipulation.”

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the facts are the basis for the above reactions and comments.  For helpful reactions that go a long way toward prevention of suicide, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 16:

“I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”  – Job speaking to his friends while he is suffering

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*speech bubble by STARISOB of rgbstock.com; two woman from kozzi.com

 

My Depressed Loved One Won’t Get Out of Bed. What Am I to Say?

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

(Today’s blog is a repost of the most popular and shared article on my website, first published two years ago.) 

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Depression, whether triggered by circumstances we can see or not, is a place of pain. We may experience it to some level or another, but when a person won’t get out of bed you can bet she or he is hurting badly.

I know it is hard to take care of someone who is sick. It challenges our agendas and causes us to sacrifice more time and energy. Depression is especially painful to watch when we love who is suffering. Often, we feel helpless though this is not exactly true! 

Each person with depression experiences it differently.   Commonalities, such as a few predictable symptoms,  do not mean one-solution-fits-all.   If circumstances could be exactly replicated, individuals will still have unique reactions. It is tempting to think others “ought” to respond or feel as we do. 

Consider this:  Is it reasonable to assume millions of people each year would choose to have their lives interrupted in such a way? It makes more sense that your loved one prefers laughter, meaningful relationships, and accomplishment, does it not? If a person you care about seems unwilling to move, out of sheer stubbornness, laziness, or self-pity, remember no one wants to be depressed.

Your loved-one needs love and affection, non-critical acceptance, and patience. Emotions are raw. Pain may be so intense that his or her body cannot keep up. Major depression reroutes best intentions into days staring at the walls.  Every joint can move as if in slow motion. This daily fight creates a hero with each small step forward.

Despair and a sense of helplessness continued to hold my focus for over a year following a suicide attempt. I was considered treatment-resistant, a problem for some. Baby steps of self-care slowly led to more, then eventually to more. Sixteen months later,  I was able to decide to learn what enjoying life means.

“Well, of course!” you might say. “So why doesn’t my depressed loved one do that too?”

Your loved one may not know how.  Losses and disappointments can interfere with human thinking processes. Issues, both known and unknown, may hold a person hostage for a time. Stress, betrayal, shock, trauma, and abuse are only a few triggers of depression. Sometimes, we do not have an answer to ‘why?’ 

Professionals in mental healthcare are there to help. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD, DO).  They prescribe medication; rarely do they offer therapy. Psychologists are experts in human behavior and are often therapists (PhD, PsyD). They do not prescribe medication. Licensed therapists and counselors are trained to help clients cope in healthy ways.

It is of utmost importance you recognize your loved one’s mental health is a complex mix of factors. We are body, mind, and spirit.  Addressing all three spheres is wise. 

You would not say to a cancer patient, “Quit having cancer!” Yet many are quick to tell a person with major depression to snap out of it. Blaming, accusing, scolding, or shaming will not make it go away any faster.

What is it you can say or do to show support?

Avoid mind-reading and assuming you know what is happening.  Ask, “Are you safe? Are you thinking about killing yourself?”  In the U.S., you can  contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for advice.  In a crisis,  call 911 or take your loved one to the nearest emergency room.  Do not leave a suicidal person alone. Remove all lethal items from the home. 

Show your depressed loved one you care. In the depths of an episode, he or she may not believe “I love you.” Say it anyway. Promising, “I’m here for you,” may seem more substantial, however you must keep your word in practical ways. Broken promises reinforce a sense of rejection and worthlessness.

Help to combat your friend’s or relative’s sense of aloneness. “I’m going to work, but I’ll check on you when I get home” offers a positive look toward the future and a reminder that your concern is not temporary. “Would you like your friend to come over? I’ll call her” is a valuable service because major depression makes even tiny decisions challenging.

Set-up or offer to go with your loved one to the first appointment with a mental health professional.  Do not assume this will be a quick-fix solution, and instead accept that you both may be in for a long haul. Just as there are less helpful, and better equipped professionals in any walk of life, mental health professionals do not connect with every client. If your loved one is not satisfied, help find someone else.   

Avoid some common reactionary mistakes. These include: “You are neglecting your family”; “Quit being so morose, it’s not good for you”; “Just go to work already”; “You’re lazy”. Comments like these are most likely attempts to change a situation to make it more comfortable. They are not helpful.

Place emphasis on the value of the person instead of on disappointments.  Say, “I am glad you are alive.” “Stay with me, we’ll get through this together,” may be met with a blank stare. Nonetheless, this type of encouragement matters. It is like water on desert soil. photo-24734018-bread-toast-with-a-fried-egg-in-a-heart-shape.

Above all else, just be there. Sit by that bed and do not say anything. Read a book, do your homework, banking, or research on your laptop. Get on Facebook or Twitter and enjoy your friends while your majorly depressed loved one lays next to you. It is ok to laugh, cry, or share a story from your day. Keep your expectations for responses low, and just be there.

Compassionate love learns to meet people where they are.

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Please read:  I’m Depressed and Can’t Get Out of Bed. What Am I To Do?

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Today’s Helpful Word

1 Corinthians 13:4,5

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…”  -Saint Paul 

To learn how a relationship with Jesus creates eternal hope, click here

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com