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How to help. Friday October 7, 2016

On the blog lately, someone mentioned not knowing how to help a depressed person. These ideas will not work for everyone, and are far from complete, but it's a sample of things that have helped me. Perhaps you have more and you can list them in the comments section or even put together a short list of your own in the form of a blog...

Deliver cooked food that just needs warming. This is a biggie. I don't know of anyone who doesn't find this helpful, depressed or not.

Visit, read the signs that imply your company is wanted... if you're offered a cup of tea, stay for tea. If you're not offered, ask if you can make one for them. If the answer is "No thank you", retreat and allow space. But do not stop visiting. Just make your visits regular, but very short. This builds trust.

Drop a text. Every day or every other day. It tells them they are being thought of and that they matter.

If face to face discussions are difficult, find another way to communicate. There are countless ways.

Be honest and say what you're thinking. Say that you want to help but that you need to be told how to help. One of the best things I have ever seen about helping someone with depression was a cartoon strip. It shows a depressed person being asked questions:

What is wrong with you?
I don't know.
How can I help?
I don't know.
Wait here.
(builds a nest from cushions)
Come in here, I built a nest and I'll stay with you until you feel better.

That is what we really need to hear.

Love from
The room above the garage.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Andrew Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 6:12am

Oh yes ratg- All of the above... I'd add the following:
If you offer a cup of tea and the answer is no, make one anyway. How often do we refuse help and favours when we yearn for them...
I love that nest cartoon... and i agree.. offering hugs and a safe place to 'nest' is good. Be there for someone, literally. Just 'be' there...

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:16am

Just be there. Powerful.

Angela Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 7:50am

I love the nest of cushions, I "hide" in my bed & feel safe there.
I think your blog should be put on billboards so many folk can see them! Hugs for fellow moodscopers xxx

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:18am

I can't often but it is my bed I crave too. Something primal about nesting in. It needs careful managing or it could become habitual but I think it is an overlooked recovery method. Sitting it out is when the head and body can realign.

Brum Mum Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 4:32pm

I so agree- in bed on Moodscope with tea and a Double Decker. What can be more healing?

Lou Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:23am

Excellent words RATG. Having someone show up (even by text or email some days) and keep showing up, no matter what made such a huge difference when I was at my lowest ebb.


the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:18am

Hello Lou, agree, and its their demonstration of that strength that can give us strength.

Tutti Frutti Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:34am

Hi RATG I totally agree that people don't necessarily know how to help a depressed person and as we are all different it is worth asking us. But I can also imagine saying I don't know or nobody can if someone asked me how to help when I was really low. I think there's something to be said for getting the instructions together when you are well and perhaps trusting a few really close people to give out appropriate instructions when you are ill. I haven't actually tried this yet I am still on the mulling it over stage.

I agree that people who usually visit shouldn't stop but I do think they need to read the signs and retreat quickly if I say anything at all that suggests I might not be able to cope with having them about. So while I can appreciate where Andrew is coming from and it can sometimes be nice to get more help than we felt able to accept, I am with you rather than with Andrew on the cups of tea.

I would much prefer a text to anyone who doesn't usually visit turning up unannounced. Regular texts or emails are nice and you can chose whether to take any notice. Including the odd pretty card with a brief message and your contact details in is perhaps even better.

I seem to have wittered on a bit again today. Sorry.

I too liked the cushions idea.
Love TF x

Andrew Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:44am

Good idea TF to discuss when feeling good how one's besties can help when low...I for one refuse any offer of help (or even tea!) when I'm down. Refuse to see, or be with anyone. And yet it is company that I crave. And often tea! What contrary folk we all are! Take care all - it's Friday, and that can't be all bad!

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:19am

You don't witter on...I like what you have to say :-)

Tutti Frutti Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 5:17pm

Thanks for your responses and glad I seem to have managed to disagree about tea without offending Andrew. Love TF x

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:18am

So do I , Andrew! What contrary folk we are indeed. Perhaps it's a

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:18am

So do I , Andrew! What contrary folk we are indeed. Perhaps it's a

Orangeblossom Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:48am

Hi RATG. I did appreciate your guidelines re how to help someone who is undergoing a very rough time. love

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:19am

Hello OB :-)

Anonymous Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 9:39am

Very useful thoughts thank you. And I love the nest cartoon, in fact I managed to find the actual carton. Here:

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:20am

Yeah! :-)

Sophie Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 10:09am

In my latest bout of depression, the one person I wanted to lean on then declared that he had no experience in dealing with people with depression so he had no idea what to do. I told him 'I'm still me, just be my friend. Give me a hug the way you would've given me a hug a few weeks ago, care about me, send me a text to say you hope I have a nice day, or send me a text to wish me goodnight, sometimes that's all it takes to make a difference'. I know I tend to retreat to the 'safety' of my own surroundings and my own company when my mood dips, but having somebody at the end of a phone (I prefer texts because speaking takes too much energy) so I don't feel completely alone in the world really helps me.

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:21am

I agree. Texts and emails are brilliant. You can say precisely what you need to and read when you are ready :-)

LP Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 10:56pm

Hi Sophie, you reminded me of what I wanted more than anything when I was low. Someone to txt before I went to sleep and when I woke up. LPxx

Lesley Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 10:18am

You kept this nice and simple, RATG. Thank you. I become reclusive but I am yearning to be invited to things and find I am sometimes not included. One thing I find is that people sometimes do not like me being majorly enthusiastic about something. My exuberance is not welcome. It can be as if they see a two D world rather than my 3D world.

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:22am

And neither way is wrong. Perhaps you just need to be around people who need that exuberance... I have little so you're welcome to hang around me lol!!

Lesley Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 4:19pm

Thanks, RATG. I will go for exuberance lovers as I used to magnetise to before I lived in Sweden. Back in the UK. No need to apologise for being exuberant (mind you I tend to feel bushed post-exuberance)

Sophie Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 10:29am

A close friend had crippling depression and anxiety over the summer and felt that although she wanted to accept invitations (like her 'old' self would do) she was too scared to do so as she didn't know how she would feel on the day. I told her as long as she didn't mind, I would keep including her on the invites and it was absolutely fine if she replied 'im not ready to do it yet' to every single one, so long as she knew she was welcome and included and we were there to support her when she felt able to give it a go. I suppose it helps that I can understand it from her side too

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 11:23am

Fantastic example of precisely what we need!

Mary Wednesday Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 1:03pm

I have gone and reviewed my blog, Keeping Vigil, from 23rd September last year, when I was in the grips of a bad one. Mostly I said what not to do, but I included this paragraph.

Today I was kidnapped in another way by a lovely friend who told me, "I'm taking you out for coffee. I'm picking you up at 10am. Be ready." We went out, we had coffee, just for an hour, because that's all I could manage. She said, "I want you to know that we care and that we haven't forgotten about you while you're down."

I think that's most important - just to know that people are there, waiting until you come up, that they haven't forgotten you.

Lesley Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 4:23pm

What a lovely friend who has the emotional skills to state openly that you are not forgotten. I find many people are too emotionally constipated or too shy to express themselves openly. My own personality - I need explicit open communication telling me I am loved and matter.

Lisa Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 4:52pm

I have realised how difficult it can be for a person to understand depression! It has been more than five years for me to realise that I needed to seek help as I just felt so alone and im so glad I did go and see a doctor. For years the one person who I really needed to just be there for me just kept their distance and said things like "im just seeking attention"! I had never felt so alone? And because of this I avoided everbody and this put me in a worse situation. With the help of medication I now feel quite normal! I accept invatations for coffee...etc And the person who I really needed at the time is there for me now. I still struggle with this as it has taken medication for this to happen. But there are a few people in your life that really do understand and its these people who I tend to lean towards. Its so nice to read other peoples worries, struggles and happy moments. Thank you x

The Gardener Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 7:50pm

All I need is strength to cope with the worst week in my life I reckon - so many real problems. I can cope with anything with a bit of peace. Mucking about in my shop window people pass, kiss, pat my shoulder, bon courage - then Mr G, every five minutes some moan or other - where shall he sit? Where's the toilet? where's his coat? My friends have shied away - they just don't want to know this illness. I think there are so many parallels with depression - it's scary, time-consuming, there are no real answers - then whatever you say is wrong. I think RATG's list would do me - half an hour in a comfortable armchair being ministered to - conversation, laughter, companionable coffee/tea/drinks - but the 'presence' in the corner puts everybody off. Tomorrow I am going to be positive (said that today) in fact, I must have been - deal with electricians who had not been given instructions - run across road and get flowers for church, did them (Mr G with paid help - they are reading, and enjoying, my report (in French) of our nine visits to India - she is enchanted. She'd love to go - slight problem - she has 8 children - she does not look thirty - how DOES she do this job with handicapped people and old people suffering from Alzheimers? Admirable. An hour of Gardeners' World - Mr G will be comfortably in bed next door - perhaps I can wallow in gardening in peace. then a good fairy with a coffee, even a cognac, and a night's sleep without any disturbance. There RATG - spirit me a fairy godmother

LP Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 7:59pm

Hi ratg,
I loved the cartoon strip. It reminded me of all the building "tents" we used to do as kids. we used sheets then made them cosy putting blankets and pillows inside, very snuggly.
Lovely blog, thank you! LP xx

DAVE Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:03pm

I am certain that those suffering in very low depression, need a LISTENING ear, one that lets the sufferer 'unload,...WITHOUT interrupting, that in itself is an art, and very few these days have the patience, time or toleration to really allow this to take place.
But in so doing it serves two purposes...1...Trust is gained and confidence becomes apparent in our listening ears, and if we continue for the period, we become very close friends.
2...We who also suffer Bipolar and depression, gain an inner confidence, we feel of WORTH, worthy and needed.

As previously quoted..."LISTEN or your TONGUEwill make you deaf". Old Cherokee saying.
Next time we say anything, ask a question of anyone we know see how much time is spent by them on how we are ?
74 year old Joan, lost her husband, lost her younger sister and dog, moved house, and her depression deepened, she stopped drivin and did not go out for 6 months.

Come to our group each Friday, one no she said, several times. one day a few weeks later I ashpked her if I could take her, after what seemed like hours, she came.

The next week she asked, could I pick her up again, ok I said.
The next week I parked my car unseen away from her home.
Where's your car? Oh I said I've got problems, but it's only half an hours walk, Oh I can't walk she said. What are we going to do I said.....after a lot of consideration, she said I'll drive, I said, oh I don't think you can? Yes she said, well as long as I sit in the front.

Joan drove ther and back...No problems.
What was wrong with my car NOTHING ! !
She doesn't know to this day, but love, kindness and a listening ear lifts those whose hands are down.

Joan spirit brings her to the group each Friday.

Dave X

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:02am

Very inspirational tale, Dave. You facilitated her "recovery". Far more useful to her in the end than just doing things for her. Great stuff. Sally.

The Gardener Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 9:41pm

The week has been like negotiating white-water rapids - need calm water. I have not neglected my plants, which have responded to TLC (which depressed people do not always do, cf RATG blog). I have designed an over-ambitious gardening project - and some most exotic knitting (I call my creations 'les flamboyants) so, if I stay afloat those are my logs to cling to.

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