“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.
Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” Stephen Fry
Up until recently I didn't really understand depression, I found it frustrating, why couldn't a person just "pull up their socks" and get on with living. It really can't be that bad - every problem can be solved. If I can do it, why can't they.
Because they can't.
It is that simple.
"Every thought is a battle,
every breath is a war,
and I don't think I'm winning anymore"
It is far more common that we would like to admit, something like one in four people have suffered from depression sometime in their life. In fact you probably know someone with depression or have suffered from it yourself.
We offer sympathy and reach out to those with a chronic illness but we turn away when we see someone suffering from depression as its just too hard to help. It is emotionally draining, it hurts to watch a loved one suffering, its painful to hear they have self-harmed, its not like sitting with someone with cancer. Depression is an illness and we need to start acknowledging it.
But like any illness, help is available to easy the pain.
I had witness it in recent months and it has been incredibly tough. The depths of despair a person can find themselves in, the anguish and the total feeling of loneliness even though they are surrounded by love is hard to come to grips with. They can't just "pull up their socks", they are struggling to just stay alive. I can now understand why a person in this place of hopelessness can contemplate ending their life. They feel totally alone and see no hope. They don't want to die, they don't want to hurt anyone, they just want to end the pain - a pain that won't go away. A pain that those who do not suffer will not truly understand.
Depression is real, it is painful and those around us suffering need our help.
For those reaching out to help - let them know you are there for them, you will fight this battle with them, you are their life boat, let them know they are in your prays daily. Help them by easing their load - I often do the grocery shopping (make sure the person is eating a healthy diet), make sure the bills are paid, go out to lunch and have a laugh (it really is the best medicine), help with transportation to appointments (I am getting quite good at sitting in waiting rooms reading whilst I wait). Be willing to be flexible with your time.
The important thing is to not sit back and do nothing. Take depression seriously, no one is immune from depression, however God is our hope in the midst of depression. We need to cast our eyes upon Him and He will give us strength. Whilst this sounds so easy, those in the middle of an episode are so blinded by their feelings of despair that they struggle to grasp hold of God's Word. It is where you, as the carer, need to guide them back and pray so vehemently that they can.
For all those struggling today - look up, God is holding out His hand to you.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'