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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been struggling with something lately, so I thought I would ask the VB community, which seems to have a lot of people with experience with depression.<br><br>
One of my friends, I'd consider him a pretty good friend, in the inner circle, seems depressed. I have known him for awhile, since high school. There were about two years in the beginning of college where nobody saw much of him, and apparently during that time he was suffering with some mental issues, which led to hospitalization and him dropping his classes for one semester.<br><br>
He seems to have greatly improved now, and perhaps partially because we started hanging out with him again. Everyone needs friends, right? However, I still think he is suffering from pretty severe depression. He is very socially awkward, has only me and a few others as his friends, has no emotional support from his family, and frequently seems glum. He has mentioned several times to us that he doesn't like to do anything, that it seems impossible for him to be happy, and that even when he's around people, he feels isolated. Unfortunately, due to his previous experiences with the world of psychiatry, he is not currently seeing a counselor and seems unwilling to try it again.<br><br>
Because he has so few people in his life, I feel somewhat responsible for helping him get better.<br><br>
Does anyone else have experience with a friend with depression? For people who are currently suffering from depression, how could your friends best help you? What do you wish they were doing? Weren't doing? I had depression myself in early high school, but it was so long ago and I was so adolescent that I hardly remember things like this.
 

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I suffer from seasonal depression and honestly one of the biggest issues is no emotional support. My family doesn't really understand the severe impact it has on me, and my boyfriend flat out doesn't understand it and constantly asks what's wrong (when clearly depression is chemical not due to an event).<br>
As a depressed person I'd appreciate if the people in my life could better educate themselves on depression and just understand that it leaves me powerless, I'm miserable and unhappy but it isn't because I have the blues, it's a sickness.<br>
I'd say you should do some research (if you don't already know much about it) and just let your friend know you're there for him and open to talk about what he's going through or how he's feeling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>KirstenKat</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2865956"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I suffer from seasonal depression and honestly one of the biggest issues is no emotional support. My family doesn't really understand the severe impact it has on me, and my boyfriend flat out doesn't understand it and constantly asks what's wrong (when clearly depression is chemical not due to an event).<br>
As a depressed person I'd appreciate if the people in my life could better educate themselves on depression and just understand that it leaves me powerless, I'm miserable and unhappy but it isn't because I have the blues, it's a sickness.<br>
I'd say you should do some research (if you don't already know much about it) and just let your friend know you're there for him and open to talk about what he's going through or how he's feeling.</div>
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Yeah. I actually feel as if I know quite a lot about depression. The thing is, my friend seems pretty in denial about the fact that he has this disease, that it's a disease, and that it can be overcome. He seems resigned to his unhappiness, as if it is an inevitable part of life!<br><br>
Perhaps a better question would be: how can you convince someone that depression is worth overcoming? That there is light at the end of the tunnel? That there is goodness in life?
 

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Unfortunately, since he won't acknowledge that he has a problem, there isn't much you can do for him except let him know that you care about him and are there for him when he needs you.<br><br>
I was in denial about my depression until my family had an "intervention" when I was in high school. It made me understand that what I was going through wasn't normal. Maybe you and some mutual friends could do something similar?
 

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I think it's a fine line between being a good friend and acting in place of a therapist/counselor, but one that you shouldn't cross, inadvertantly or not, for your own sake. Been there, done that, in my younger, even more foolish, days and will not do it again.<br><br>
As a friend, you can tell him that you yourself experienced depression, that with help, you got better, that it seems to you that he is suffering from depression. You can tell him that you understand that he has had a bad experience with psychologists/psychiatrists/mental health workers, that you know from your own experience/the experiences of other friends/acquaintances that it can take time and multiple tries to find a therapist that's right for a particular individual, but that it's worth trying, because it is possible for most people to get better. You can even offer to go with him to *interview* a couple of therapists.<br><br>
But don't get vested in his recovery beyond that, because you really can't motivate him to seek help if he's opposed, and it's not your responsibility. <i>He</i> has to decide to get help and to actively work at getting better or at least managing the disease.<br><br>
An intervention can work, but it has to involve the people closest to him.
 

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Hmm. Well, one thing I can think of sounds counter-intuitive, maybe, but sometimes giving the person some space is what you should do. I've suffered from depression myself, and I know exactly what your friend means about feeling isolated despite being surrounded by people. Sometimes I'd feel the most alone while in a crowd... But yeah, giving space is important. Some of my friends, particularly one, would be knocking on my door frequently, and I just felt overwhelmed by it, because I needed time to myself.<br><br>
At the same time, it's important not to abandon him. For me, calling in advance - as opposed to just popping by - and making plans as early as possible as opposed to asking me to do something at the last minute was something I appreciated. I was unlikely to feel like doing anything on the spur of the moment. I don't know if that's just me, or if this is something typical about those suffering from depression.
 

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Everyone seems to have good ideas here really, I think take a little from each of them. Take some space, for your own sake as well as theirs, because you don't want to become mired deep into the problem, it will be unhelpful for your friend, and frustrating for you. But also be there with emotional support. And when I say be there, I don't mean that you'll be there every step of the way on a road to recovery, but rather that PATIENCE more than anything will help. Things don't get better overnight, and you can't force them.<br>
Do fun things, nice things, never hang out if all you're going to do is sit about bitching. Don't force positivity on him, just make sure that when you're around, you offer positivity, and that can show an alternative to unhappiness. But at the same time, don't be irritatingly chirpy and overly happy, because that might alienate him.<br><br>
The most important and painful thing to remember though is that you should just leave the situation if it all becomes too much, whether that's temporary or permanent. You don't want to end up miserable yourself, and becoming too vested in it will damage any positive action you try.
 

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Try and include him in activities but don't force him to do things he's uncomfortable with. As he said to you, depression often makes you want to stay in bed all day and saps your energy. Don't let him sit in his room and think glum thoughts TOO much if you can persuade him to come and hang out with you guys. Some alone time is good for everyone, even depressed people, but if he seems to be isolating himself again that is best avoided.<br><br>
Don't ask him what's wrong, tell him to cheer up, or suggest things that might make him happier. Depression is not being sad about something, as Kristen said, it's a general feeling that everything is crap and nothing will be good again.<br><br>
I think mlp makes a great point that you don't want to become his therapist. That would be tough on you and probably wouldn't help him since you're not trained, though you're obviously very thoughtful and concerned about him. For your OWN mental health you don't need to get too involved in his depression, it isn't your job.<br><br>
It's really great that he has someone who is thinking about him and wants to help, that can sometimes be a great comfort in itself <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>dormouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2865964"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
He seems resigned to his unhappiness, as if it is an inevitable part of life!<br><br>
Perhaps a better question would be: how can you convince someone that depression is worth overcoming? That there is light at the end of the tunnel? That there is goodness in life?</div>
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i spent a few years totally isolated, anti-social and only left my house 5 days a week to work my 8 hour shift and buy food on the way home and that was it. every other moment was spent in my cottage.<br>
what really helped me during that time was copying something i had read years earlier. true story: there was a man who was diagnosed with a terminal cancer and he decided to see if he could cure himself with "the best medicine", laughter. he only watched funny movies/tv shows for a certain period of time. (my memory of the details are fuzzy and i couldn't find his name when i googled it.) anyway, he went into remission and it was pretty amazing. so that's what i did.<br><br>
also read stuff like George Carlin, <i>The Tao of Willie</i> (Nelson) and other similar silly stuffs.<br><br>
after several months, i eventually started to add more inspirational movies where people in the most horrendous or extremely sad situations overcome them and learn to live again. e.g. <i>Slumdog Millionaire</i>, <i>The Color Purple</i>, <i>Shawshank Redemption</i>, <i>It's A Wonderful Life</i> and many more. i told myself if these people can overcome what they went through, then so can i.<br><br>
right after this period, i found myself in a group out-patient therapy with women who have been through: losing a child/children, domestic violence, rape, drug/alcohol addictions, incest and more of the worst things imaginable. every now and then, we would have movie day where we would watch one of these healing-potential movies.<br><br>
if your friend loves to listen to music, he can create his own healing playlist. this was one of the best exercises we did in that women's group. they had us list all of our favorite positive uplifting songs and then share them. much like the <a href="http://www.veggieboards.com/newvb/showthread.php?123330-Songs-that-help-you-endure-life" target="_blank">Songs That Help You Endure Life</a> thread. because there were women of all ages, races and backgrounds, the variety of songs was awesome!<br><br>
all of the above are just simplistic, basic (and for me) essential components of a bigger recovery picture. but i cannot tell you how much they helped. i love music, books and movies and what we choose to listen to, read and watch can make all the difference in the world. maybe your friend can use some of these healing tools to help him see that depression is worth overcoming, there <i>is</i> a light at the end of the tunnel and there is goodness in life.<br><br>
your friend is most lucky to have someone as compassionate and able to empathize as you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the advice anyone. It's just such a delicate situation. I saw him today, and I told him that we missed him over the weekend. I also invited him to something we're planning for this coming weekend. Sometimes I worry that bringing it up or pushing the issue too much might make him shut down entirely. Hopefully he will come hang out with us, knowing that he was missed.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>dormouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2870747"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Sometimes I worry that bringing it up or pushing the issue too much might make him shut down entirely.</div>
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This is completely right, and you're right to think it. Be careful, and make sure that when you say he was missed that it is sincere. The 'oh we missed you so much' thing is so easy to make sound silly and like you're just saying it because of the depression. I think that sometimes you have to be ok to leave them alone, because while moping alone is not good, being forced into company so that you can't enjoy it doesn't help.<br><br>
It sounds like you're doing well though, and it's such a horrible situation you're in.
 
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