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World Mental Health Day 2013 – getting and giving support

mental-health-help-support

Thursday 10th October 2013 is World Mental Health Day. This is an important topic to me and I want to contribute at my level. This is also a wide theme and I will focus on depression as this is the one I have the best knowledge of. Today I want to discuss support and getting help. The first step to recovery is really realising you are depressed. This seems obvious but experience told me that depression is easily ignored by the sufferer themselves if they are not in the habit of minding their mental health. Which is quite common in today lifestyle.

Just as you would regularly check your breast (for the ladies) or your skin (for all), you can easily get used to checking your mental health. Ask yourselves some questions like:

  • Do you enjoy life, yourself and others?
  • Do you have something to look forward to?
  • Do you feel you know what you like, who you are?
  • Do you think your are worth your friends and family love?
  • Do you feel accepted for who you are?

Of course we all have times when we would answer no to one or more of these questions and this is just normal life course. But if you find yourself answering no too often or not even caring about the answers it may be time to look for help.

Depression can hit you so hard and suddenly that you can’t even function or get out of bed. It can also be a slow and quiet process that nobody notices until it becomes really bad. Even if you don’t think you fit the depressed person profile you should talk to someone if this happens to you:

  • you spend a lot of time crying and worrying ;
  • you don’t feel you can talk about what is going on in your head, whether it is shameful or too complex to articulate ;
  • you experience episodes of panic or intense fear that can even create physical pain ;
  • you sometimes feel you are not in your body, you are not the one living your life ;
  • you think nobody cares about what is happening to you (this is always false, there is always someone caring for you) ;
  • you sometimes think everything and everybody would be better off if you didn’t exist.

Of course I am not a doctor and all the above is only part of what your symptoms could be. For more accurate information, check organisation specialising in mental health like this one or this one. On the other hand if somebody comes to you saying they are depressed and very low there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Do you best to stay non judgemental. Chances are the person is ashamed enough as it is, they only need warm unconditional support. If you can’t offer this, maybe mention help lines like the Samaritans or Aware.
  • Remember none of this is your fault. Depression is a disease and you can’t cause it to any of your loved ones.
  • Don’t ask why they are feeling this way. They are probably overwhelmed by it all and don’t have a clue. If not, they’ll let you know what is troubling them.
  • Just listen and offer comforting support, say how you feel about the person in positive ways. Even if you think they are not touched by the positive feeling at the time, it will grow on them and help them feel better.
  • Don’t be afraid to check on them. You may be afraid of being intrusive but the truth is they need to know people in their life care even if they are not aware of this or seem withdrawn.
  • Find support for yourself, especially if a person close to you is depressed. It can be very hard on caring people too and there is help out there. You can start here for instance.

Finally this video explains in simple words what is depression and what it does to you or make you do:

It feels a bit weird to write about this among my light hearted craft posts. This is only my take on the matter. But this is very important to me, I hope it helps someone the same way I found help when I was very low.

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