Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to help someone with depression

This morning I went for a run with my friend Renee. Sounds simple. No big deal. But this was a gigantic big deal! Renee didn't realize this, but right up until the time I left my house I was filled with trepidation. It is so scary for me to make plans with anyone when I'm in the midst of the darkness. I can't keep my own schedule let alone involve another!

But when I scheduled a 6:00AM run with Renee, I did involve another, and that was the key. I wouldn't have run if Renee hadn't been waiting. In fact, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of bed. That's the easiest way out, after all, to roll over and go back to sleep. But Renee was waiting. I couldn't sleep. I had to go. This morning marked only the fourth run I've accomplished since Grandma's Marathon one month ago. Without Renee, that number would still be three.

Renee's initiative broke up my isolation. Renee didn't allow me to stay away. She sent two e-mails offering a bike ride, swim or run. She didn't offer advice. She didn't suggest she could fix things. She offered to share her time with me doing something I typically enjoy. So despite my trepidation, I scheduled the date. I am so grateful for Renee's initiative. Without her offer, I'd still be in bed.

One of the most common questions people ask me is, "What can I do to help my depressed friend or family member?" This week I was blessed with two friends who demonstrated the answer to that question. Be kind. Do what you would do for any other ill friend or family member. Pick a bouquet of flowers like my friend Cindy did. Her flowers acknowledged my current struggle, which was validating and encouraging. They were a bright fragrant addition to my home. Everyday they reminded me someone cared.

Renee cared enough to share her time with me. She got me out of the house and out of myself. Once we were running we just had fun. And isn't that what friends are for--to get outside ourselves? To have fun? It's so simple, I say. Do for your friend with depression exactly what you would do if your friend had cancer. Be kind. Offer encouragement. Cook a meal. Mow the lawn. Do something enjoyable with your friend. Don't advise. Acknowledge their reality. Resist the urge to fix it. Take a moment to be with them while also allowing them to just be.

I'm grateful for my friends today.


Caligal83 said...
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Mohican said...

Another good post. So many people lack an informal support group that's non-judgmental. Nudge, don't drag.