When Someone You Love is Depressed

When Someone You Love is Depressed

It was a forced friendship from the beginning. Boldly, she announced that every single Wednesday she would be coming to my house. I could see her resolve. I was scared, and I started to squirm. Every Wednesday?

Generally, I leave this thing kind of open-ended, “penciled in,” if you will. I rarely do firm “commitments;” after all, what if I decide to change my mind? Somehow, she must have known that.

This unyielding pit-bull type proceeded to clamp down on me even harder stating the only way I could cancel is if I had a doctor’s appointment (even then I believe she would have required a written doctor’s excuse)… “Okay, are you my principal now?”

Starting to hyperventilate.

Next, if I were to refuse to answer the door (pretending that I wasn’t home, even though my van was in the driveway) she would sit in my driveway for an hour and pray while she waited (Heaping guilt, too?). So, I timidly opened the door every Wednesday, and she walked in. She understood I needed her; I was battling the depths of depression.

Chances are you know someone in this struggle. If not, get out more, they’re everywhere… maybe living in your home or sitting in the seat next to you.

But what do you do when someone you love is wrestling with depression? Our instinct is to run onto the scene and “fix them.” Find a quick list to check off, then instantly transform this unpleasant forecast to sunny days. If only it were that easy!

I’m persuaded that the best thing we can do may be nothing more than to just sit and be with them. No real formula, just the power of presence.

What if the most profound, life-giving thing about us is our transformed and transforming presence?

It is fun times being friends on sunny days. It is an uncomfortable position to enter into broken places where the sun refuses to shine and the shadows incessantly come out to play.

Be willing to just walk in. Don’t speak. Offer your tears, not your speeches.

By definition, depressed people are often plagued with an irrational view of themselves; their mind in this state doesn’t have the capacity to rightly think and reason. Thus, words and speeches are frequently of no avail. It’s not that they don’t want to hear and believe; it is that they can’t.

Those who feel like they are suffocating from the weight of darkness are often unable to move toward your advances in friendship. An almost certain accompaniment with any legitimate depression is the tendency to withdraw from relationships (even from those people whom we love and respect the most dearly).

Never take this personally. I literally have hidden under my table so my friends could not see that I am home (it would have worked if I had a larger tablecloth). Please don’t be offended when a depressed person doesn’t return a text or phone call (or doesn’t answer the door). Give them a breath of fresh air instead, an act of grace, a heart of compassion and understanding. Not one that responds in hurt or condemnation.

Be willing to just walk in. Don’t speak. Offer your tears, not your speeches.

So in an attempt to answer what to do, I suggest you follow in the footsteps of the friends who loved me well in my darkest season. Friends who brought me meals, watched my kids, sent cards, bought me coffee, and texted me prayers.

Be that pit-bull, go all stalker-mode and sit outside their door. It may not be quickly answered or excitement to hang out with you on the other side, but go anyway. Make yourself available, even uninvited, walk in. Climb through the window, chimney, whatever you gotta do.

You may have the joy of being by their side as they walk the long arduous journey toward healing. Just a word of advice if you decide to be that friend – pit bull – window climber, make sure the next door neighbor doesn’t own a rifle before you do.

You may also like Learning to Breathe and Say Something.

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