You are depressed. You can’t see the washing up build into a tower beside the kitchen sink. You can’t see the plants around you dying. You can’t see that your hair, from lack of washing, is starting to look wet. You are depressed.
I think that one of the hardest things for people who see their loved ones go through depression is seeing them deteriorate, not look after themselves, not cope. But what can you do?
The simple answer is to work around them. Do the washing up, even if it’s not your turn. Guide them to the bathroom, but don’t force them in. Cook for them, care for them. They are depressed, they can’t do it themselves.
You may not understand this if you’ve never been depressed. How can they not see the mess around them? How can they not see that they are letting themselves fade away? Keeping life going around them can help. Keeping the kitchen clean and the bathroom accessible. These little things are huge for someone who is depressed.
Grey tinted glasses are exactly what you would imagine them to be. The opposite of rose tinted. Through these glasses of depression a person cannot see that life is getting out of control, that daily tasks are not being done.
For a person on the outside, seeing these things happen can be deeply concerning. To see the lights fading from a loved one’s eyes as they blink through the mist that has taken over their perspective is frightening.
Depression in an alteration in perspective, it’s the inability to see and think clearly and rationally. Sometimes the only feeling there is an indifference to the outside world and a total lack of feeling anything. Other times it is a crippling sadness, feelings of guilt or shame or just overwhelming tiredness.
You can’t take away someone else’s depression and I’m not suggesting you can by simply doing the dishes. But helping care for a person experiencing depression can ease the daily feeling that the person cannot cope and help them stay physically healthy while they recover. Cooking them good food to make sure they are getting enough nutrients or running them a bath with relaxing essential oils – lavender does wonders, can ease their experience through depression and let them know you are on their side.
Sometimes you just have to sit with it. Personally I now have a strange and, to be honest, irritating association with the sofa. I can’t really relax on the sofa without getting a bit down. I think it’s because for the best part of a year I simply sat, lay and rested on the sofa, too depressed to do anything. The tears freely flowed over that 12-month period and the joy of life was an alien concept to me. There was no joy, only sadness and guilt for sitting there doing nothing. But my partner helped. Quietly he kept life going around me, he didn’t fuss but he did look after me when he could see I couldn’t look after myself. It helped.
Recovering from depression can take a long time and sometimes it’s one of those two steps forward, one step back scenarios. Not everyone’s experience of depression is the same, it can take many forms. But common signs include lethargy, disinterest in the world and a struggle to get on with day-to-day tasks.
If you are living with a person with depression you too can seek help. Depression does not only affect the person experiencing it, but also the people around that person and we all need help to defeat the ‘black dog’.