Many of the people I see feel that it’s very hard to get support for their depression. They may find it hard to talk about the subject altogether or they may have had some experiences that suggests that “people just don’t want to know.”
This morning I saw several people with depression and bipolar and what struck me was that my sense of enthusiasm for helping these different people, who are all dealing with more or less similar problems, did not correlate very well with how depressed they were.
One woman who has been wrestling with depression for many years has had a significant worsening in her mood associated with suicidal thoughts this past week. After our session, during which I don’t think I came up with any particularly brilliant idea for how to solve her problem, she turned as she was leaving my office and said “thank you for your help.”
After the session, not only was I smiling, but I found myself thinking that I needed to spend some more time coming up with better answers for her.
Another woman who has also been wrestling with depression for many years and recently has seen a modest improvement in her mood, although it is certainly far from where either of us would like her to be, ended our session by saying how frustrated she was that we still hadn’t found a solution.
I’m not trying to suggest that expressing frustration to your psychiatrist is not entirely appropriate, it is. But what occurred to me this morning was how this difference in working with a psychiatrist might play itself out in other ways in the lives of these two women.
Then I happened across an article on exactly the subject in the Bipolar Magazine. It is called “advice for the support team.”
“Sometimes managing your bipolar disorder can feel so overwhelming, it’s easy to forget that the people who love you are living with bipolar, too. They get stressed. They may feel angry or hurt by your words or actions. They want to help, but don’t know how.”
“Sometimes meaning well isn’t enough: People in your support team need education and simple, concrete guidelines. That’s what columnist Stephen Propst gives in“What Helps and What Hurts.” So make it a point to sit down together and review his ideas.
For example: “Remember to acknowledge any effort your loved one makes to deal with his or her situation.””
People wrestling with depression deserve compassion and love, but so do those who were trying to support loved ones with depression.
Thank you can be a real gift, and can help you build a strong support system.