Anxiety and Depression- Advice- How to reach out

posted 1 year ago in Wellness
Post # 2
890 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

I dealt with depression for 20+ years, and medication really helped. I hope that she has local friends with whom she can spend her precious time, as that will be one of the biggest helps. Being far away, I guess talking on the phone is the best method of connection. Remember that depressed people (I think, from my experience) feel not only hopeless and helpless but disconnected from other people (and from a sense of purpose and meaning and… I could go on). So the best way to facilitate some kind of support is by connecting with them. Cards, letters, texts, etc. are all beautiful ways to show that we care — but nothing compares to face-to-face meetings and touch. The second best thing are our voices on the phone (or on Skype/Facetime). 

If you’ve the opportunity, perhaps sending a little gift she can share with a local friend of something to DO together. One of those paint-and-wine places? Giftcards for a movie theater? (This is all depending on her situation and willingness to spend time with friends.) Get her OUT and being with people again. Laughing and experiencing. The worst thing about depression is that you feel like you’re a burden to everyone, so no one would miss you if you were gone. That feeling makes it almost impossible to reach out. If she can say to a friend, “Hey, I’ve got this gift card for blahblahblah! Want to join me?” it’ll be a helluva lot easier for her to spend time with others without feeling like her presence is a burden. 

Another thing: When you talk to her, be willing and available to listen to her say the same thing over and over. You won’t be able to “reason” her out of what she feels and thinks. It may be absurd to YOU, like a person suffering from anorexia nervosa who is terrified of getting fat and losing control, but it makes sense to her. Just let her talk if she needs to talk. This is a big ask (and another reason why depressed people think they’re a burden), but it’s necessary. Healing from depression doesn’t come, I think, from rationality. If it did, I think we’d easily be able to reason our way out of it. But it requires something more than that, and connection with others — intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, experientially — is the key. (I think.)

Post # 3
890 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the things that made it worse. I would categorize anything that makes it worse as “dissmissive.” Anything that dissmisses her experience and perspective (as absurd as they may seem to others, and they WILL seem absurd) won’t help. 

So telling a depressed person to “chin up” or “look on the bright side” is horrible. Like, they literally CAN’T. Their brains make it such that they CAN’T. (I’ve a sneaking suspicion you already know this, as you sound quite sensitive to her situation.)

There are all sorts of issues associated with depression, some of which have to do with eating and the body, promiscuity, hygiene, financial responsibility… If she fucks up some of these things, try not to reprimand her for them. She’s already super aware that she’s “acting out,” let’s say, because she doesn’t matter and won’t be around much longer anyway, so why not do it. Depression doesn’t make you dumb, but it sure can make you a hedonist, and it WILL destroy your sense of worth and selfhood. She already knows. 

For god’s sake, don’t suggest that she will heal if she takes up hiking or biking or yoga or volleyball or painting or poetry or…. These are all beautiful things that give people their reason for living, that’s very true. But if these were enough to make depressed people flourish again, it would be easy as fuck to flourish in this world. But it’s NOT easy to feel a sense of meaning and value, and as wonderful as exercise and art may be, they’re not (usually) enough to pull a depressed person out of that hole. 

[This is different than my gift card suggestion. The dismissive part of the hiking, etc. suggestion is this: “You’d feel better if you did [fill-in-the-blank] every day!” What people really mean when they suggest that is that the person needs a change of lifestyle, and that such-and-such lifestyle is enough to combat the brain’s chemical influence over our sense of inherent meaning in the universe, as well as our existential and phenomenological experience of being-in-the-world. Sorry, no. That’s not true, and it is one of the MOST dismissive suggestions I’ve ever heard for depression.]

Now, that’s not to say that suggesting she put more of her time toward things she DOES love and for which she has hitherto shown passion is the wrong thing! No! One of the things that routinely helped me out of my depression was my particular academic field. When I was studying, I did not want to die. The moments when I stood up in class to teach, I did not want to die. When I wrote lectures and researched, I did not want to die. So if there’s something you know that she’s loved and has stopped pursuing, ask why. Support her in getting back into it. But try not to suggest that returning to that thing will “save” her, because it (likely) won’t. But it WILL help.

Meh, I can’t think of anything else right now and I know this is long as hell (that’s what she said!). 

Post # 5
11303 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

View original reply
elodie2019 :  

Would saying, I know you’ll feel like yourself again someday be appropriate?

Nooooooo.  That is another dismissive comment.  She may have suffered from a low grade depression for her entire life.  Depression is not like a virus that you catch and get over.

Stop searching for the *right* words and please nix the cards and gifts.  I fear you will misstep there, unless you get her a gift she has already indicated that she wants.

Just validate her feelings.  You can never, ever go wrong by validating what a person is feeling.  Depression must feel awful. I am sorry you have to go through this.  Done.  Let her take it from there.  One of the worst things you can do is put pressure on her to talk about it, to cheer up, to get over it, to do anything.  That’s the job of her therapist right now.  We can’t gauge from here how severe the depression is; we don’t know what she needs.  You can ask her, though.  How can I help? And, again, let it drop after that.

If she is thinking about suicide, it’s ok to let her talk about that.  Again, your job is to validate.  You must be in a lot of pain right now. Talking about suicide does not cause suicide.  That’s a very dangerous myth.

Just because you may not see some kind of immediate *result* does not mean you have not been helpful.  Depression is a bitch.

I am sorry that you had to struggle with anxiety.  But, do keep in mind that depression is a different monster, though they certainly can coexist.

Post # 7
698 posts
Busy bee

I struggle with depression. We are all unique, though, so what really works for me may not help her –

that having been said: here’s what helps me. 

Friends who text and say “just thinking about you and want you to know I love you! Sending hugs” that kind of thing. 

Or – a HUGE gesture that moved me- when my fiancé broke up with me, the two women who were going to be by bridesmaids wrote to me every. Single. Day. Just to say “how are you?” 

And they listened to my babbling on facebook messenger. 

And when I was really struggling, one of them said “call me. Right now.” And talked me off a cliff. Had me laughing by the end of the call. 

Two other friends sent care packages. I should really call these “self-care packages.” Lovely smelling soap, a little chocolate, poems and a card of Frida Kahlo with the message written on the back “a strong, fearless woman. Like you” 

candles, books – just a lot of little wonderful things to help me take some time to myself and enjoy. 

Also appreciated with these gifts was the message of no expectation or pressure. That they knew I was hurting, and I should use all my energy to care for myself- they expressed it was important I not stress about thanking or “repaying” them, as reciprocating is my way- but I was and have been far too depleted to find things to mail them. 

Taking the stress of social obligations out of it is key –


just expressing that you’re there and that you care is such a huge gift to someone – and don’t take it personally if she doesn’t respond , just trust she’s doing her best ❤️


Bless you for caring enough to ask this ❤️❤️

Post # 8
273 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

My friend and I use an app called Marco Polo. Its basically video messaging. It’s been helpful to both of us as we struggle with this, because it alows us to address our feelings to someone, without the added anxiety with feeling like a bother or burden. If I send her a heavy message, i know she can watch and respond as her schedule allows. She uses it the same way. It relieves some of the pressure without making me feel like I am getting in the way. 

Post # 9
979 posts
Busy bee

Check in on her by calling or texting. Engage her with cute pics or links she may like on social media. Send her a small present or some takeout food. Remind her that you love and care for her and that you are always there. Show up at her house and take her on a day trip. The only thing she really needs is “effort”. 

Family can be the worst part of depression. 

Post # 10
486 posts
Helper bee

I have family members who suffer with depression and they live far away.  A simple thing I do is I’ll send a text about something really small…like I know they love this time of year and I’ll just say “the leaves here are really pretty, it made me think of that time as a kid when we did this one activity, remember?” It doesn’t demand them to talk about themselves or even focus on the sadness they are feeling.  Even if I just get back a “yeah I do” I know it’s some kind of contact and an attempt to put a positive memory in their head.

and something that only works with my sister is reminding her that she has gotten through these times before and she will again and I’m here if she even needs to catch a flight and hide out in my guest bedroom.

I have also sent flowers randomly to brighten their day.

my grandma had the most intense form of depression (she was bipolar so her depression phase was so intense.  Her manic phase just made her seem “normal” that’s how depressed she was-this is how the doctor explained it to us) and she was very hard to reach in those times.  A phone call could give her some joy for a second and when I visited she needed constant cuddling and compliments, which I never minded giving.  But cards and phone calls would just literally brighten her face.  

Post # 11
45 posts
  • Wedding: June 2019

When I’m suffering I find a text saying hope you’re ok, here if u need me x is really helpful. I know someone is there and cares but I don’t have to reply with how I am.

A bunch of flowers  some chocolate, something someone thought I might like. All these things with simple messages like “you got this” or “saw this and thought you might like it “

Optimism makes me feel people aren’t listening or understanding the way I’m feeling so sometimes someone going, yeah that sounds crap, makes me feel I’m not going crazy. 

Post # 12
11303 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

View original reply
ahsoka :  

Perfect example of just how unique we all can be.  So many of the gestures that you experienced as support would have felt smothering to me.

And if someone gave me a call me, now command, that would have really driven me away from them.  The last thing I want in the throes of a major depressive episode is orders to reach out.  Trust me, I know how this works.  I’m the best arbiter of what I need.

Dear gawd, please don’t call me every day, even if I 10:10 love you.  

It’s impossible to overstate the value of simply asking people how you can help.  Not just during a mental health crisis, but, in any situation in which we feel that someone we care about is in need of support. It is incredibly presumptuous to just assume that we know what’s best for other people.

You may be completely right about what the other person wants and needs from you.  But, at least by asking you are giving them some agency.

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