Dear Friends, I want to introduce you to Victoria. She is sharing some wise words regarding how to love someone with depression. This is a must-read and must-share! Blessings, Laurel 🙂
Victoria is a wife, mom of four girls and a writer. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Liberty University in Psychology & Christian Counseling and currently works full time for the Liberty University Online Communities Department as a staff writer/blogger. Victoria also writes on her own personal blog (www.victoriamininger.com) where she focuses on helping hurting women find hope and healing from fear, anxiety and depression so that they can begin to live again.
Depression. It’s not an easy subject. It’s not easy for those of us who have lived it, and for those of us who have loved someone going through it. It’s a tough conversation to have, and yet, as I look at the world around us the need cries out. People are hurting, wounded and in despair. Every day we lose people to depression, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. These kind of conversations allow us to start doing something about those losses. To address how depression really effects all of us. To talk about Hope in the midst of it all.
Healing from depression is one of those tricky things. When you are going through the midst of this dark storm, everything inside of you wants to just run and hide, especially from people. But the tricky part? One of the important aspects of healing from depression is to be engaged in relationship with people. Healthy people, encouraging people, safe people.
But often those battling depression can have a hard time knowing how to relate to those around them. Depression can leave your world feeling muted and holding little interest. Depression often causes a shift in personality, energy and enjoyment of life. Hanging out with friends, catching a movie, or dinner out no longer hold the same appeal.
When you battle depression it is hard to know who is safe to share with. Often this uncertainty leads to not sharing, causing further withdrawal. Honestly, it can be a vicious circle. As a friend it’s hard to know what to say and do. You don’t want to make things worse, but you want your old friend back. You want to laugh again and enjoy life together.
Through the years, as I have battled my own fears and depression, I have discovered some key things that bring life and key things that don’t. In this post we are going to talk about the “don’ts.” – 5 simple things to avoid when loving someone through depression.
- Acting as if they should “Get Over It Already” – Whether you think it or say it, this attitude towards someone fighting depression is more harmful than helpful. When you are battling depression what you wouldn’t give to “be over it” already. Often these words are a result of a friend or caregiver’s anger and frustration of not being able to fix the depression, but in the end only serves to add to the weight of the battle. Understandably if you are supporting someone fighting depression, the season can get weary for you as well. It may feel like plenty of time has passed and they should be over whatever it is that has them in this place. However, every person’s journey is different and you can’t put a time frame on healing from depression. For some, healing comes within months, others it can take years.
- Bible Verse Band-Aids – Don’t get me wrong, God’s Word is important and for those fighting depression scripture can often bring real comfort. However, if our answer to someone’s depression is to throw a few Bible verses at them with the hope that it will “stick,” we fail to truly love. Giving someone random Bible verse Band-Aids does little to ease the pain of a gaping wound in the soul. When I was battling depression I had a hard time believing the promises of God’s Word for my life. It took family and friends walking out scripture for me to grasp onto the hope and healing God’s Word offers. So, instead of a random verse, I challenge you to walk out the scripture as much as you speak the scripture. God’s Word in action can be a powerful balm to a hurting heart and mind.
- “If You Just Had More Faith” – This might be one of the most hurtful things that you can say to someone facing a dark storm of life. Depression is rarely just a faith issue. Often depression touches all aspects of a person’s being. Physically, mentally and spiritually. If anything, depression tests your faith like none other and we need others to come alongside of us in that testing. This quote sums it up well – “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.” (Author unknown)
- Stop Showing Up – Because depression causes withdrawal, it is easy to assume that maybe your friend just needs space. Can I implore you? Please keep showing up. Even if they don’t want to get together because they are struggling to get out of bed, or put one foot in front of the other…keep showing up. A phone call can be a life line. Too often we relegate our communication to a quick Facebook post or message. Never underestimate the power of your own voice in the life of a friend. They need you to show up.
- Fix It Mode – Because we love, we want to fix. Sometimes I think it’s just in our nature. Unfortunately, depression isn’t an easy fix. It is a process, which starts with your loved one admitting the dark place they are in. In depression there can be denial, grief, anger, resentment, hopelessness and a myriad of other emotions and factors. The important part is to realize that you do not have to have all the answers. Often you will not. But what you do have to offer is support, love and encouragement as they travel the path towards healing and wholeness.
I don’t know what your story is. I don’t know who the loved one is that you are battling for. Maybe it’s a friend, a spouse, a parent or a child.
What I do know is there is HOPE and that you are not alone. There are so many of us who have walked down the path of depression. There are many of us walking with a loved one battling this monster. However, I am convinced that as we begin to be brave and have conversations about mental health – depression, fears, anxieties (the list goes on) – that we will see God bring even greater healing to individuals and to us as a people.
If you are loving someone through depression right now I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him how to reach their heart, because we must go first to the one who knows them most intimately – the creator of their very being. It is not an easy journey, but as you seek God on the behalf of your friend or loved one, I know He will be faithful to meet you.
What is your story? Who are you loving through depression? What would you add to this list of things to avoid?
Even earthly Kings despair:
My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. PSALM 38: 10
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof. PSALM 102:4-7
I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. PSALM 6:6
But even Kings have Hope:
“I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined unto me and He heard my cry. He lifted me out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and He has set my feet upon a ROCK and He established my steps, and He has given me a new song even praise unto our God; many shall see it and fear and shall trust in the Lord…the first 3 lines of an ancient Hebrew song Psalm 40:1-3”