HOW TO HELP SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
If you notice a change in your friend confront them and say you have noticed a change in their behaviour / emotions / or feelings – sometimes the person will not even realise until it is too late. In doing this ensure you choose the right place where you both feel comfortable and can talk freely.
Offer to go with to doctors’ appointments – when someone is depressed it is very hard for them to retain and process information.
Ask how you can help when they are experiencing a panic attack – whether it is just a hug, helping with breathing techniques or taking them out of the situation., or equally they may want to be left alone to ride it out.
Learn and read about symptoms that the person is getting anxious or struggling, this will help you understand what is going on and what to do without asking.
Help them understand that they are not abnormal and it could happen to anyone
Understand that even the simplest of situations can be traumatic for the person suffering. I could not even enter a shop for 6 months and still cant get onto public transport
Knowing someone is there even if just a text to say ‘hello’. It is amazing how quickly people suffering can feel no-one likes them, cares anymore or that they are a burden.
Little notes from close friends and friends even if you have not been in touch for many years – again just knowing someone is thinking of you. Through my illness I reconnected with a friend from childhood, which I would never have expected but now we have a very special friendship.
Photographs to remind them of the good times. A friend of mine gave me a framed collage of fun times we have had, all the photos were of us laughing and messing around. I put this straight up onto my wall as a reminder that things were once good.
Going for walks – fresh air makes the world of difference, but taking themselves out on their own can be impossible.
Going for a drive – just to see life going on around them. The world of someone suffering can become very small and isolating, so just to see life helps.
Being allowed to talk openly about how they are feeling with no judgment, knowing they are being heard.
Acting normally and talking about everything going on in your life, to distract from the thoughts going round in their head
People understanding what they can or cant do, without feeling excluded.
Just having people around and knowing they are there.
Having someone else making decisions and plans so the person does not need to worry about that as well.
Sticking to plans that have been made. In order for the person to be able to do anything they need to plan it all to the smallest detail, so changing or cancelling plans can be more harmful to them than it would be to anyone else
People recognizing what could trigger anxiety and taking them out of potentially stressful situations. The most touching thing a friend did for me was learn my triggers and did everything to avoid them and make me feel safe and comforted.
People offering to visit at home or in hospital. Although when I was in hospital I may not have always responded or taken people up on their offers, please know that just offering made me feel less alone. Hospitals can be daunting places to, but, remember they are even more scarey and isolating for the person going through it. They are not there out of choice and cannot leave.
Giving them things to do. Coloring books, journals, anything crafty, magazine, little cards. Anything to give them something to do or take their minds off things. These things took my mind off what I was going through.
People just sticking through it all with me so we don’t feel alone.
Most important just asking how we are.
REMEMBER WHATEVER HAPPENS
I still love you but my illness prevents me from doing and being the same person I was, but underneath the struggle I still am the same person.