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Mental Health Mondays: Hurting Friends – Can You Help?

By Bewilderedbug @bewilderedbug

Mental Health is a serious issue affecting our society today.

In an effort to get rid of the negativity and the stigma against mental illness, these brave women have chosen to share their stories with you.

Be nice, read, reflect and respond reasonably.

Mental Health Mondays: Hurting friends – can you help?

This post is from Raylene who blogs over at It’s OK to be Weird.

It’s not easy to walk through life with a friend or family member who is struggling with depression, pain or chronic health issues. It can be a very dark time for both you and them. Things can be confusing for the person going through it, as well as for those who walk the road with them.

Through my own difficulties, friends have asked me if there is anything they can do to help. I didn’t always know the answers to those questions. But I’m beginning to understand what those around me can do to help.

Here are a few things that might be helpful when helping a loved one deal with depression or pain, and supporting them through it.

SAD GIRL © Stanislav Pepeliaev |

SAD GIRL © Stanislav Pepeliaev |

Accept their condition or situation. No one may really understand what is going on or why, and trying to scrutinize things may be more frustrating for everyone involved. Accept that there is something wrong and believe the person when they tell you about it. Depression and pain, if you’ve never personally dealt with them, can be very difficult to understand, and the symptoms and feelings surrounding them can be hard to believe. But anyone who has been through these things will tell you that they are REAL, very real! Give the person the benefit of the doubt, accept the sometimes-strange things that might be going on, and be willing to listen even if you don’t understand.

Learn about the condition or situation. Be willing to find out more about what your friend is dealing with. The symptoms of depression can be confusing – so read more about it. The cause of physical pain can be a mystery – so seek out information for dealing with the issues. It is important to understand what someone is dealing with in order to best be able to help them.

Part of learning about things is also listening to how they affect the person specifically. Many diseases manifest themselves differently in each person. Talk with them through the different options of care, let them bounce ideas off of you, and be open to the whole process of learning.

Walk with them, with love, support and encouragement. Usually, just being willing to listen, offering a helping hand, and showing that you care will be a big help for your friend. Offer a shoulder to cry on, not a judgmental opinion. Be available to talk about frustrations or about progress. Help with housework or childcare.

WOMAN'S FACE © Abdone |

WOMAN'S FACE © Abdone |

Sometimes, when you ask a hurting person, they may not know what they need help with. Think about what you might need if you were them. Sometimes it is necessary to be firm about offering help. “I’ll come by on Thursday to clean for you,” might be more helpful than asking, “I have some time on Thursday; what can I do for you?” Dropping off a meal will nearly always be a huge blessing, and something as simple as a card or flowers can also really make someone’s day.

One of the most basic things you can do for a friend in need is to stay in touch with them. Pain, depression, fatigue, etc., can isolate a person. They probably DO want to talk to people, but they have a hard time picking up the phone (“nobody wants to hear my junk”). A 5-minute phone call reminds them that there is still a world out there out there and that someone cares. Even if they can’t participate in regular life activities, invite them and try to include them as often as possible. Resist the urge to be discouraged or frustrated when they can’t participate.

You can help someone in need, even if they aren’t sure what they need. If you have a family member, friend or loved one who is coping with a difficult situation, whether it is pain, disease, sickness, depression, or just a tough time in life, there are things you can do to help them. Accept where they are with their situation and acknowledge how serious it is. Learn about their condition and do what you can to support and encourage them. Above all, extend the grace to them that you would hope to experience in a similar circumstance. You will be amazingly blessed as you reach out and help your friend in need. And you’ll both be better off for the effort!

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