2. Prepare some questions.
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You might feel nervous to ask your friend exactly what’s going on with them. Perhaps you feel like you don’t really know what to say. A way around this is to prep some questions, but make sure you don’t end up rattling them off in one go — that will just feel like an interrogation. Instead, write down some things you’d like to ask and bring them up when it feels right.
– How are you feeling today?
– How long have you been feeling like this?
– Did something specific happen or did it come on out of the blue?
– How can I best support you right now?
– Have you thought about getting help?
7. Freshen up their living space.
When you’re depressed you stop looking after yourself and the space you live in. When I’m going through a severe episode my room is gross and mouldy, and there’s rubbish and debris everywhere. Having someone who will help me throw away the rotting food, wash my dirty socks, or remind me to make my bed can lead me to feel like I’ve achieved something that day. Don’t go in there armed with bleach and sponges. Don’t expect you’re going to make a drastic difference. But just a bit of help can make your friend feel like they’re not drowning.
13. Make them a mixtape.
The playlist doesn’t have to be filled with GET HAPPY NOW music – it can be slow, sensitive, and thoughtful. The best is if you select songs that remind you of your friend or loved one and the memories you share. If you don’t know how in the world you’re going to burn a CD, let alone a cassette, it’s perfectly OK to stick to Spotify and add songs into a list. You can add an extra touch by personalising the list with a photo and some notes.
16. Take a step back if it’s getting too much.
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While your friend might be going through a difficult time, make sure you’re not neglecting your own wellbeing. Focus on being well rested and make sure you have someone else you can vent to. Also pay close attention to your body. If you feel yourself getting ill or over-stressed it may be time to take a break.
Being there for someone with a mental health condition can be emotionally draining, especially if you feel guilty for all the times you’re not there, when you’re busy with something else. Remember there’s only so much you can do. You can support them every step of the way, but your friend has to do a lot of the hard work themselves.
If you need information and practical advice on depression, you can call the Mind infoline on 0300 123 3393 (9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday), if you’re in the UK.
You can call the Samaritans for confidential support if you’re experiencing feelings of distress or despair on 116 123 (UK), 116 123 (ROI).
And you can call the Crisis Call Center at 1-800-273-8255 at any time of the day if you’re based in the US.