Small Steps to Helping a Depressed Loved One

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By Maja Dezulovic

Sushi Rolling with Bed Sheets

I had a major depressive episode that started halfway through last year and trampled over a good part of the beginning of this year. For a long time I was unaware about what was going on, then I denied it, and when the anxiety and depression had taken over, I had no choice but to seek help in order to function normally within everyday life. Depression is ugly for those with the mental-illness and those around them, who may at times find it difficult to understand and bear the burden. Through the difficult times, it’s important to keep in mind that it is an illness that can be beat and people have managed and are managing to lead happy and fulfilling lives in spite of it.

I am able to read, write and do the things I love today because the people around me refused to give up on me when I was at my worst. Now, almost at my best, I look back and know that I have made it here because of that ongoing fluffy cushion of support.

Step 1. Hold Them

I remember clutching desperately onto my husband’s shirt whilst drenching him with my tears when I felt terrible. He enveloped my trembling body and that warm embrace was sometimes enough to keep me going for a little while longer. It’s amazing what a hug can do.

Step 2. Listen

When I was depressed I found it difficult to express myself. The best I could do was to tell people that I was in pain. Almost every experience felt like a painful one because I had constant migraines, tremors, and fears circling in my mind making it difficult for me to interact with others. When a loved one is going through depression, listen carefully when they speak because trying to make others understand is one of the most difficult things about being depressed.

Step 3. Push them a little

People can be notoriously stubborn when it comes to seeking help and taking medication. I am guilty of this. My friends and husband had to repeat themselves many times before I listened and spoke to my doctor. After that, I had to be pushed again to see a psychiatrist and keep to my follow-up schedule. In my mind, I was fine. In reality, I was not. It was up to those around me to push me into taking the necessary steps to getting better.

Step 4. Feed them

I completely lost my appetite once depression had taken over. Realising this, my husband started cooking more often and made sure that I was eating, even when it was the last thing on my mind. Shortly after starting on a new antidepressant, I had a huge appetite and gained weight quickly, my husband now watching to see that I don’t eat too much. Something as simple as eating can go out of sync when one is depressed so pay attention to daily rhythms.

Step 5. Sushi Roll Them

Usually I am up before my husband in the mornings. By the time he gets up, I have already made coffee and done a few other things. This was not the case when I was depressed. I found it hard to get up at all, and when I finally did, it would be much later than him and I would take frequent naps throughout the day. It’s not the same for everyone, but when I get ill, I start oversleeping. After failing to talk me into getting up, my husband tried a new tactic. He would just roll me up in the sheets and lift me up out of bed. Standing there, I’d have no choice but to eat, shower and start my day. We jokingly call it sushi-rolling. Once the sushi-rolling stopped and I began getting up each day of my own accord and before my husband, we knew that I was getting better. I smile when I remember the sushi-rolling, because it is one of the things that reminds me of the depth of my husband’s love. Maybe you can’t sushi-roll your loved one, but you’ll find something small to do that will make a huge difference in helping them get better.