On Helping Our Friends With Depression

Perhaps there is more we can do than encourage them to reach out. Perhaps it actually begins with us.

I was already so saddened and so affected earlier this week by Kate Spade; with Anthony Bourdain’s passing this morning, it was just too much. My heart is broken for them and those that have gone before them.

While it is encouraging to see the posts reminding people to reach out or to call the suicide hotline, I’m also contemplating tonight if there could be a role we can each play in helping to create a better culture – one that could better facilitate others reaching out…

What if, perhaps, we could genuinely mean it more often when we asked how people are doing?

What if we could approach those around us with more of a spirit of compassion rather than transaction, remembering and recognizing the humanity in each of us?

What if we could be courageous enough to just listen and sit in someone’s struggle with them, instead of just offering quick solutions or a smart reply to lighten the mood?

What if we could be less afraid of ruining the vibe with serious conversation and allow our conversations to enter a more authentic place? To talk about how we really feel. In a way that invites others to also share.

If only they knew how much love there was out there for them. It is always that way.

That’s the thing though. Depression is so deceitful. It is isolating. It is heavy. And it is usually exhausting. Those suffering often don’t have the strength to reach out and believe that no one could help. They may even think that they don’t want the help. What if we could learn the signs more, so that we can recognize them, to help our friends get the help they need when they no longer know how?

Maybe we can start now. In our own families, in our own circles. To start making it a norm to connect more authentically with each other (which also means creating enough space to connect with ourselves and our own emotions as well). To encourage and prioritize mental health breaks and self-care. To get ourselves informed on what depression is, what it looks like, and how to help. To destigmatize it. To proactively tell people that we care or we love them – who cares if it’s weird. Or even random acts of kindness, or a small note or gift of encouragement, or just a thoughtful word.

You never know. It might just save a life.

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