Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back with the Reprieve

Again, doing much better today.  Spent yesterday with Nik, out and about.  Even though it was cold, we were by the water most of the day and ate lunch spying on the Canadians.  (The restaurant was across the St. Claire River from Canada.)  I hope the added sunshine helped.

I want to revisit something with depression:  I know most people, guys especially, want to jump in and start making comments on how to "fix" the situation.  If I can say anything, DON'T DO IT!  At least for me, when I feel depressed I am already thinking I am damaged beyond fixing, and the suggestions generally serve more to reinforce the FACT that I am damaged than to ease it.

An Example:  I was talking to a Bible study a while ago, and we got on the subject of depression.  One woman said, "I would tell the person to just give it all to God!"  (She was one of these overly perky people.) I just shook my head.  She continued:  "I would tell the person that Jesus loved them and wouldn't give them anything that they couldn't handle!"

I then explained what "someone" who was depressed might hear those statements.  I said that the person, if the person is a person of faith, probably HAS already given it all to God.  The person has probably been praying earnestly that God intercede but has not seen any evidence of  intervention.  So now, the person is hearing confirmation that God does not hear their prayers.  I then explained that the "Jesus won't give you more than you can handle" will also fall flat.  If God is not listening to prayers, Jesus obviously does not care. If Jesus does not care, then Jesus cannot be counted upon to make sure things did not go beyond someone's ability to handle them.

Yes, the woman was trying to help, but without an understanding of the illogical thought process of the depressed person, it just makes things worse.

I would explain that the first thing to do is to acknowledge the feelings of the person.  Acknowledge that the person is feeling overwhelmed.  "But won't that just feed into the person's illness?"  No, it will allow the person to know that you are hearing what they are saying.  It allows the person to know that you are not going to contribute to their problems.  Acknowledging the way the person is feeling allows the person to not feel blamed.  (Blame as in, "This is my fault because I do not love Jesus enough" or whatever.  Blame or trying to fix is not useful at this point.  Actually, blame is never a good thing.)

Next thing is to try to break into the behavior pattern and send it into a different direction.  This is not to tell the person that what he or she is feeling is bad, but to add something to it.  If possible, go walking with the person, get a cup of coffee, something.  Find a way to interfere with the behavior pattern.  At least for me, depression is like a deeply rutted path; it is almost easier to stay in the ruts rather than get out of them.  The ruts allow the person to travel without using a lot of energy. Unfortunately, the ruts will always lead to the same place.  So although it is easier, it is still a bad path.  Getting out of the rut takes some help.  Yesterday, like I said, Nik and I went out walking along the river, antique shopping, having lunch along the river.  Making fun of the Canadians!  (You know, it is 20 degrees colder on the other side of the river.)  And being able to talk.  I was able to tell Nik my fears that my depressed feelings were weighing on him.  He assured me that he was in it for the long haul and that I do not need to worry about him kicking me to the curb.  That reassurance helped to free-up some of my energy so that I could start to work on changing my outlook.

The best thing to do is to just listen and reassure; there is no need to try to fix it.  If you win the person's trust, you will have an opportunity to help, but until then, you are not the person's therapist, just be the person's friend.

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