*Disclaimer: In this post, I am talking about depression and mental illness. I am not a medical professional and this post was not written with the intent of giving any sort of medical advice. It should be used for informational use only and like everything on my blog should never be substituted for professional medical advice.*
When you are disabled and have a lot of health issues it is common to struggle with some form of depression or anxiety because your health is not always predictable like it is for most people. Sometimes you will be doing everything right and out of nowhere you will have a health issue for reasons you will never understand but that is just the reality of living with a chronic condition. Some people manage their depression really well and you will never be able to tell they are struggling with their mental health while others it’s very obvious. Therapy is a good option for some disabled people but is not a choice for everyone because some insurances won’t cover it and a lot of disabled people are poor so they can’t afford to pay out of pocket. When your friends are depressed it can make you feel helpless to watch them in so much pain because you want to help. How can you help someone through their mental illness when your not a professional? You can’t fix your friends if your not a doctor but helping them through their mental illness is possible! In this post I am going to talk about how I help my friends through their mental illness without having any sort of professional training.
Remind them they are not alone- When you are struggling with depression sometimes you feel alone like no one gets it. You are not alone and even if the people around you don’t totally get what it’s like to be depressed they still care and want to help. There are tons of people living with depression and even though it may feel like your are the only one struggling your not and there are tons of people going through the same thing as you. Always remind people with mental illness that their pain is valid and that they are not in this alone in this fight because some people are at their breaking point and need to hear that. You can never say this enough because you never know where someone’s mental health is or what they are going through.
Be their friend not their therapist- When my friends are struggling with their mental health and come to me asking for help my only concern is if they are okay. Sometimes they are not okay and need a friend to talk to that will listen and try to understand them. Be there friend not their therapist because if someone wanted a therapy session they would get help from a real mental help professional that could help them through their mental illness not their friends. Trying to be someone’s therapist when your not will destroy great friendships because your friends need support more than anything! Trying to be someone’s therapist when your not is dangerous and can destroy great friendships because friends are looking for expert advice. It will break the trust you have so people will never want to tell you anything personal ever again.
Give them space- People with mental illness will open up to people that they trust but not if you are making them tell you their life story because that is just prying and being nosy. Some people might not be ready to talk about it and that is okay because they will talk about it when they are ready but not if you are pressuring them to. Give people space and don’t force people to talk about their depression or anxiety because that puts them in an uncomfortable situation that no one should ever be forced into. People lie when you force them to open up about things they are not comfortable sharing and are most vulnerable about. Waiting might kill you but we will share when we are ready and it won’t happen any faster when your annoying about it but people will just learn how to dodge the question.
Respect boundaries- It can be a big step for someone to recognize that they can’t do this all on their own and need a lttle extra help. If someone has opened up to you about their mental health struggles respect their privacy and do not post anything on social media or tell others about it even if it’s within your own family. Some people are embarrassed or shameful of their mental illness so when you tell other people about it without asking first your putting them in a very uncomfortable situation. We are more than capable of telling people we trust about our mental health struggles and we don’t need someone else to do it for us. The only reason I might break this rule is if someone is causing harm to themselves or to others because at that point you need to talk about it with a professional but if that is not the case you don’t to telll everyone around you your mental health story.
Don’t force them to pray-When you are disabled or have mental illness people you will always be approached by someone insisting that you need prayer. Usually, your cornered in a store so you have no other choice but to say sure because these people won’t leave until you let them. I believe in the power of pray and think that it can do wonderful things but there is nothing I hate more than when you corner me and insist I need it. It actually makes me want run you over and tell you to get lost but I don’t do that because it’s not the right thing to do. Pray for me as an individual not that my disability will someday be cured because some people don’t want a cure and wouldn’t get it there was one. It can be damaging to approach someone with mental illness and insist that they need prayer because some people don’t believe in the power of prayer and will only be shut down if you force it upon them. If you want to pray for me on your own time I can’t stop you from doing that but don’t put me in a situation where I can’t walk away.
Listen– If someone opens up to you about their mental health struggles now is not the time to talk about yourself or how horrible your workday was but is your time to listen. Some people don’t feel like they don’t have a friend that listens or cares about their mental illness so this is your opportunity to show them that you do care and to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own! We do want to hear your life story but when someone is struggling with their mental health conversations about you are better served for another time.
When your friends are struggling with depression it can be really hard to sit and watch your friends go through so much pain. You want to help your friends through their mental illness but it’s hard because you can’t give them advice like a therapist can. Therapy is the best way to make improvements on you mental health but it’s not the only way and you can help you friends without therapy. You don’t have to be a therapist to help someone through their mental illness but sometimes people don’t want a therapy session and just need a friend to talk to. Mental health should be taken as seriously as physical but because there is so much stigma around mental illness sometimes it is brushed off and not taken as seriously. Some people never speak up about their mental illness because they don’t know how their families will react and approval from the people you love is the most important. You don’t have to fully understand what someone is going through something to know something must be awful but you can believe that their pain is valid and real even if you can’t see it. Do you have a friend struggling with depression and how do you help them through it?
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