Watching your loved one go through a hard time can make you feel helpless and confused, especially when they are inflicted with an illness that is not necessarily easy to see or can be measured by an X-ray. To put it simply, depression sucks, and claims the lives of many each year, especially in the Black community where there is a lack of awareness due to the systematic lack of resources.
When faced with your own battle of the blues, it's tempting to attempt to pray it away, party it away, sex it away, or think that shaming yourself out of a depressive state will cure it. If that were the case, there would be no mental issues in the world and no suffering; and if you look at the news, it seems the opposite is happening at an alarming rate. Most of us were taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated, so what happens when we never learned how to treat our own mental issues? How are we supposed to be compassionate towards our sister going through a hard time emotionally when we ourselves did not receive that type of compassion in our darkest hour? The answer is simpler than you think: we vibrate higher.
When it comes to depression in regards to your loved ones, you cannot fix them but you can support them while they attempt to fix themselves. The "saving" part should be left to the professionals who have studied mental health and received the credentials in order to assist patients best. Your job is to support your girl, and supporting is literally holding them up, helping them fight their battle while the professionals do their thing. Here are a few ways how to:
Ask how you can be of support to them at this time.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I even find myself missing this mark. We can't assume that our version of support translates well to another person despite us having the best of intentions. Simply asking what a person needs at the moment makes it 100% easier to get it to deliver it to them.
The answers may shock you in a pleasant way and is a great point of introspection for you and your loved one. Think about it, how often does someone ask you how they can support you? How often do you ask yourself how you can support yourself emotionally? This supports people, in general, to get comfortable asking for what they need by first defining it and realizing that the universe is not working against them.
Make your supportive presence as palpable as possible.
We are gifted with technology which means we have the ability to communicate with less commitment, effort, or inconvenience as ever before despite our distance. Check-in in a way that is best for you, as often as you feel comfortable. A little bit goes a long way. A quick "I was just thinking about you, how are you?" could mean more than you could ever imagine. Find a way to not overcommit yourself, but at the same time, be sure that you are there when they need you the most.
Pump up the intensity during this time. Opt for Facetime and phone calls so that they can feel the love in your voice instead of watching their moves on social media to gauge their life. Listen as their energy starts to improve as your conversation goes along. Ask if it's alright for you to stop by every once in a while, not in an inquisitorial way, but to let them know even at their lowest that you enjoy their presence. This will also strengthen your bond.
Let them know it's okay for them to take their mask off around you.
Shame and silence are deadly. Mental issues are a silent killer because most of the time people get so good at masking their problems from other people, and hell, even themselves. Giving someone the okay to not be okay is a lifesaver. No judgment, no overly critical energy, you are not pulling out the 'Bob the Builder' toolbelt, you are just letting her be. That in itself makes doing the work that they need to do to fight depression easier because they are not resisting depression, they are sitting in it and saying, "I'm a mess and I'm still worthy of love, happiness, and prosperity." Plus, there aren't enough bottomless brunches, girls trips, or memes in the word to help when life gets really real.
People go through real issues. Losing loved ones, jobs, apartments, purpose, and there is no rainbows and sunshine to preach. Sometimes a "girl, this must be so hard for you, I'm here if you ever need to talk" goes a whole lot further than an "everything is going to be okay". It is more than okay not to be okay! By giving someone permission to be a beautiful hot mess, you will start to have more compassion for yourself when you are going through a hard time.
Check-in with you.
Make sure that while you are supporting others, you are also pouring into yourself. The journey you take with your loved one through the darkness may trigger some emotions in you indicating where you need some healing also. Check-in with your emotional wellness often. You can't put the responsibility of saving or fixing anyone besides yourself on your plate. All you can do is do your best to be supportive while another person does their inner work. You cannot pour from an empty cup or give what you don't have.
All you can do is your best to let your loved one know that you believe in them, that they are stronger than they think, and that you will be there for anything you need. All you can do is be the light.
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