Monday, March 1, 2010
Helping Others With Depression
"Watching a loved one go through a hard time always impacts you in some way or another. You watch them hang their head, cry a little and you pat them on the back and tell them it will be okay, all the while feeling sad for them, but still continuing on with your own life.
When my boyfriend of two years started to get a bit emotional, I did just this. I told him it was hormones, or the stress of exams and told him I would hold his hand whenever he felt sad. One Sunday about a month later, I was sitting at home watching the tellie when he called, he sounded like I had never heard him, and asked to come over. Thinking he was just a bit down, I said "Of course! I'll meet you at the train station"
An hour later when I met him, I wished I had a car. I practically carried him home as he sobbed and sobbed in my arms. I was so unbelievably confused. This was my boyfriend, the guy that cuddles me when I cry, and is always tough and strong and manlike, yet here he was, small and sad as a lost kitten, crying his eyes out because he had a bad conversation with one of his friends "He hates me, they all hate me, I hate me" he kept saying.
To me, he was perfect, funny, smart, kind and caring. one of the best people I knew, it was so hard to sit and watch him say all these things about himself I KNEW were not true. I tried for weeks to convince him otherwise but he refused to listen to a word I said.
For a couple of months things went on like this, every so often he would break down and come to me for help. I found myself losing concentration at school (he is in my year) and just watching him to make sure he was ok. I listened to everything his friends said to him so I could stop them if it sounded too harsh, or note down a compliment that I could replay to him later - my life started to revolve around my boyfriend and how he was feeling. Then it got worse. Every day he would cry and cry, I would sit with him for hours while he cried, thinking he was weird and that no one else his age got depressed. I started to get depressed because the one person I could always turn to for help was weak and unable to support me. I got confused and insanely lost, he didn't want anyone else to know he felt like this so I couldn't really ask anyone what I could do.
All my friends started to get annoyed with me because I hardly saw them anymore, and my mum got really scared because she thought there was something really wrong with me. When my society and culture teacher came and asked me what was wrong and how he could help, I realized that my boyfriend's depression was rubbing off on me, and clearly, my methods of helping him through this hard time were not working. I went and spoke to my dad, who is a youth worker, the next day. He told me all about depression and why it can be caused in young men, what i can do and some numbers that my boyfriend could call.
My boyfriend of course refused to call the counselors, but it cheered him up a little when I told him about what can cause depression, he started to realize it was quite a normal thing.
A friend of mine, who had also gone through a depression patch asked me one day if my boyfriend was OK, and I told her he wasn't. She spoke to me for ages about what she went through, and I asked her to speak to him. Slowly, my boyfriend began to see that it was ok to feel bad sometimes. I eventually talked him into talking to the school counselor. I had to come with him the first time, but he eventually started to see her alone.
Surprisingly, after only a few sessions with [depression counseling], he seemed to be doing a lot better. After about 2 months he told me that the counselor had referred him to a special doctor who told him that he had a form of dyslexia (or something similar) and that because he had lived with it without knowing for so long, the doctor was surprised he hadn't been depressed earlier. He must have always felt inferior to those around him, his brain just didn't work on the same level.
Eventually he managed to get back on track, with the help of his mum, my mum, his closest friends, the school counselor and myself, he started to return to his usual self.
Looking back, I can't get over how stupid I was not to talk to someone earlier, getting help is extremely necessary. I was in no way ready to deal with all that I did. It affected me and our relationship a lot, and although I feel even closer to him now, I also feel a lot more depended on. I was expected to make things better when I had NO IDEA where to even begin.
Making people aware that they are not weird for feeling depressed is also something I learned. In many ways I can thank this experience because I now know that whenever I feel down or depressed, it's a completely normal thing. I now know that if a friend or family member is depressed, the best thing to do is [support] them in every way you can, be their friend and hug them a lot, but leave the professional work to the professionals, and don't let their depression directly affect how you live your life..."
*This content was created by Reach Out Australia. *Last updated 09 Jul 09
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