Today, a friend confided in me that her son has been diagnosed with clinical depression. It is a great honor that this friend trusts me with this information. We all come to mental illness with many ideas of what such a diagnosis means, and we all have to recognize that many of our ideas are true and some are not.
This friend is doing so many good things, and it reminded me of so much I’ve been through and how far I have come in my own recovery.
The son is also doing many hard things the right way. First, he sought help from his mother. He returned home where he could be nurtured and where he can heal. Next, he actually called a doctor himself. Then he did a very hard thing by going to his appointment with the doctor. Now, he’s continuing the hard work by taking the medicine prescribed. All these steps point to one vastly important bit to know. Since he’s actively reaching out for help, he wants to recover. With this attitude, he can get better.
I made some recommendations to my friend on how she can help her son.
1. She should use physical touch to maintain contact with him. Depression makes us feel so very lonely, and touch reminds us we are not alone.
2. She should encourage her son to exercise. A walk in the sunshine and fresh air will help him very much.
3. She should use ample positive reinforcement when he does anything to aid his own recovery like keeping doctor’s appointments or taking medicine as prescribed.
4. She should tell him often that he is worthy of recovery. Depression robs us of all our good feelings of self-worth and replaces those with hopelessness.
5. She should remind him often this is a disease, and there is no reason to feel ashamed.
6. She should mention often that his current feelings are not permanent. He can and will feel better with the help of a good doctor, good medicine, and helpful people.
7. She should help her son look for a good psychologist for talk therapy where he can learn many valuable tools to help him feel better.
8. Importantly, she must not neglect herself. The caregiver needs nurturing, too.
These ideas can be used by anyone to help another hurting from the disease of depression.