OT - Women Wednesday
Welcome to Wednesday, Stalkers. My apologies for my long absence. Let’s talk about that…
I suffer from both anxiety and depression. To add to that, I’ve also been on a bit of a merry-go-round with my physical health. Mental and physical health are like balancing scales. Did you know that when one is ‘off’ is can affect the other?
There is a strong connection between the mind and body. When you’re in physical pain, you may not be able to do the activities you enjoy, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. In turn, mental health issues can take a toll on your physical health – such as causing sleep disturbances (insomnia) or impairing your immune system (frequent illnesses). When I divorced my psychotic, abusive exh, I suffered from “emotional diarrhea” for months. You read that righr: MONTHS.
Depression and anxiety affect your ability to participate in healthy behaviors and activities. This can result in problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, and can decrease a person’s ability to participate in treatment and recovery.
So what do you do when someone you care about is suffering?
- UNDERSTAND THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.
Even if you have been in a mental health crisis before, THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME. We all know what it’s like when someone says they totally get your problem while you sit there, screaming inside your head, “NO YOU DO NOT!!!” So be sympathetic, listen, and HEAR, but realize there is no way you can truly know what’s going on in another person’s mind because you are not in their head. Be the person they can talk to and the shoulder they can cry on – NOT the person who tells them what to do.
And I do mean LISTEN. Don’t change the subject. Do NOT dismiss their concerns. Do NOT tell them what to do: “You just need to exercise!” Yeah, EFF OFF. I’m too bloody depressed to MOVE, much less squeeze my fat arse into spandex/lycra and jiggle around the gym. And when a friend trusts you with personal information, DO NOT go around sharing that information with others. That could very well lose you a friend. The exception is talk about suicide (see #5.).
- YOU CAN’T FIX IT AND IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
You do not have a bag of fairy dust that you can sprinkle around and fix everything. You can offer love, support, compassion, and understanding. There are times when they don’t feel like enough, but keep it up! Mental health issues are not cured overnight, so don’t expect instant results.
- KEEP IN FREQUENT CONTACT.
Let your friend know you are available. Reassure them that you care. It’s okay to say “I’ve been worried about you.” It’s okay to ask “What can I help you with?” It means a lot. Check in on them regularly, whether in person or sending them a text saying, “Just wanted to say Hi”.
- ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEEK HELP.
Did you know many people do NOT seek treatment due to the associated stigma? Less than 50% of adults with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment. When suicide is mentioned, it’s time to tell a professional and get help! Your friend may be angry with you, but it’s better to face their anger than attend their funeral.
Sometimes it means EVERYTHING to someone who is depressed just to know that you care. If you can spend time with them, don’t make it physically/mentally taxing. Watch a comedy movie at home (laughter is the best medicine). Send a text, a little card, a funny comic, a bouquet of wildflowers. Showing them that you care and staying in contact really does help.
DISCLAIMER!!! By NO means am I a medical professional. I am someone who suffers from depression and anxiety. I know what has helped me and friends of mine who also suffer, and I know what has p!ssed us off. The one thing you can do to shut us down and shut you out is for you to TELL us what to do, how to act, or to just “get over it”.