Last week I had the pleasure of attending Ruby Wax’s show Sane New World at this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I knew the show was to cover the topic of depression but I also hoped for some of Ruby’s sense of humour thrown in for good measure. I wasn’t disappointed! Ruby managed to have us all laughing together, meditating together and taught us all a thing or two about the mind by the end of this jam packed hour.
Ruby is obviously extremely passionate about the topic of depression, having suffered from it for many years herself. She went back to University to find out more about the condition, the mind , and then went on to study Mindfulness as well. She is extremely educated and knowledgeable about depression and has been called ‘the poster girl for mental health’.
I loved the fact that she had everyone laughing about this mental health concern, especially as many people still try to hide this illness and others still connect such a stigma to it.
The show got me thinking about my own history with depression and what had, and hadn’t helped me. So I thought I’d put together this blog to share this with you. Even if you have not suffered from depression you might find it helpful for helping those that do.
How not to support someone with depression:
- Please never ever say ‘chin-up’ or ‘pull yourself together’! Not only does this not help, but it very likely the recipient of the comment might want to jump up and smack you in the mouth.
- Never suggest that they have nothing to be depressed about. They already feel like no one understands, and this would just be the icing on the cake. They don’t need to hear this.
- Don’t ignore your suspicion that someone you know is suffering from depression. They will need someone to talk to, even if it’s only to make sure they don’t feel alone.
- Don’t judge them. They are doing enough of that themselves.
- Tough love never works, it only serves to make them feel more crappy and more alone.
- Never laugh or make fun of their feelings or behaviour.
- If they open up to you, don’t trivialize what they tell you.
- Don’t think that just because they have a ‘good’ day that the depression has gone away and don’t bring to much attention to ‘how much better they seem’ until there appears to be a more permanent change.
How to support someone with depression:
- Simply listen.
- Check in on them regularly, even if it’s only a text or a short email to say hi. Even if they are not ready to talk, they need to know they have people that actually care about them.
- Make yourself available to them if they wish to talk or just be around others.
- Encourage (but do not push) self-care practices. By this I mean, pampering sessions, getting out in nature, getting creative, doing things they love, spending time with pets, taking time out just for themselves and eating well.
- Offer to cook a healthy meal or two for them. Often depression is made worse by a poor level of nutrients in what we eat, which is made worse again when we feel too depressed to be bothered about what we eat.
- Try to understand that it’s likely they feel pretty crappy about themselves and their life, so support rather than badgering is advised.
- Encourage them to seek, if not from a doctor then from a therapist of some description.
- Let them know they are loved and cared for often.
- Understand that if the depression is bad, they may have trouble attending appointments or doing shopping etc. Offering support in these circumstances will really help.
- Never let them think you have given up on them, even if you have to take a back seat for a while for your own sanity. Explain this to them. Explain that you still care for them, and are there if they need you.
- If they are using alcohol, drugs or stimulants of any sort, it’s probably because this makes them feel better, albeit temporarily This could be a slippery slope to addiction, so encourage them to seek help for their underlying depression before it gets any worse.
- Let them see how truly amazing you think they are. Allow them to see how much of a good friend or family member they are to you. The nature of depression means that often think they are not, and that you have to keep ‘putting up with them’.
- Understand that most pills, potions and treatments don’t work straight away, so give it time. Remind them that treatments aren’t instant. They may want to give up if things don’t work right away
- If they allow them self to be used or abused by others, don’t judge them, but understand this is because they don’t feel worthy of anything else.
- Help them to find things to laugh about and have fun with.
How I supported myself when I had depression:
- I started to understand that nothing out there is going to fix what was in here. I had to look inside if I wanted to be happy.
- Listing what I was grateful for each day rather than what I felt was rubbish about me and my life.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) / Tapping. This helped me deal with some deep seated stuff that was making me unhappy and also stopped me on many occasions for starting the depression cycle all over again.
- Mindfulness and meditation. Learning to live in the now, rather than in the past or future helped a huge amount. Meditating in general helped me as it gave my busy brain some down time, which then started to filter through to more of my daily tasks, meaning I wasn’t constantly running over the same stuff in my mind.
- I stopped trying to cover up how I was feeling and started talking and accepting that pretending I couldn’t hear my own internal voice was never going to fix things.
- I started to reduce toxins from my life, both inside and out (including reducing toxic skin and home products).
- I started eating a balanced and healthy diet (removing foods high on the GI index to help balance my adrenals and blood sugar levels).
- I dealt with food intolerances and looked at ways to improve gut health.
- I increased my consumption of all the B vitamins.
- I used Bach Flower Remedies to deal with some of my thoughts and feelings.
- I de-cluttered my life, which helped to de-clutter my mind.
- I learned to stop seeing my own worth it what other people thought of me (or what I think they thought of me).
- I stopped seeing my self worth in my processions or what I felt I should of achieved at this stage of my life.
- I learned to respect and forgive myself.
- I stopped watching so much TV, reading newspapers and deleted lots of repeat negative offenders from my social network pages. Instead I decided to watch inspiring films and documentary’s, read all sorts of inspiring stories and surround myself with as many positive people as possible.
- I started to ask myself what I could learn from what I’d been through and how I felt and how I could help others in similar situations.
- Understanding that no one is perfect, but that we are all amazing begins in our own right.
- Eventually learning self-care and self-love.
Here’s some more depression tips:
9 Best Ways to Support Someone with Depression, click here.
Help a Friend with Depression, click here.
How to Help a Person with Depression, click here.
How to Help when Friends or Family are Depressed, click here.
The 10 Best and Worst Things to Say to Someone Suffering from Depression, click here.
What have you tried that’s helped your depression?
I’m now off to read my signed copy of Ruby’s book Sane New World – Taming the Mind!
For more information about Ruby Wax, her shows and her books please see her website – www.rubywax.net