August 5, 2017

Ways you can help a mate who's going through depression or anxiety

I was 16 when I first started experiencing mental health problems, mainly depression. It came completely out of the blue. I hadn't lost anyone close to me or experienced anything traumatic, I had lived a 'normal' and good life, almost too good.

I began to question everything I was doing, why I was doing it and if I even should be doing it. I wondered why I'd lived such a plain sailing life and then began to think that it was all too good to be true and began to live a life in fear.

I was turning into a living mess. I wouldn't go out in case something happened, I didn't get to close to anyone in case they hurt me or left me. I began living in isolation, which was not healthy for my mental state.

Things got to the next level and I didn't want to leave the house or see anyone at all. Showering became the toughest task but enjoyable. I found comfort in my bed, staying there to block out the world but sleeping was a nightmare as the thought of waking up was hell on earth. Living life was hard. The anxiety of life was overpowering and deadly.

My friends and family began to get increasingly worried and pushed me to get help, which I did. Medicine and counselling has helped me back to being me but the best healing medicine I received was the love and support from my friends – one in particular who took the time to research depression, symptoms and how to help. She was like my guardian angel. She sent me messages near enough every day just to check up on me. We'd go walks together and just have cups of tea. Depression never leaves you and it's important that your friends never leave you too.

If a friend of yours is suffering from depression or/and anxiety and you want to help, this is what they most likely want the most:

1. They want to hear from you regularly.

You may think you're pestering them and forever bothering them because they don't reply but they just don't know what to say. They love hearing from you, imagining your voice say it while reading a text. These little acts of kindness lighten their day.

2. They need you more than they let on.

You may feel they're pushing you away, which means they need you more than ever. They may say they're fine and are coping, but they really want you there, in that moment hugging them close until the pain stops.

3. They want normality.

You know you have to put in the extra effort when they aren't cooperating, but don't do something you wouldn't normally do. If you'd usually meet for a meal, don't say let's go to the zoo. Keep things the way they were 'before.'

4. Be there.

Just let them know you're there for them and you mean it. Don't give them false hope. Be the friend they need you to be.

Get more tips on being there for your mates >

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

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