How To Love Someone With Depression

How To Love Someone With Depression


Somewhere in your relationships, someone
is depressed. How to love someone with depression? Let’s get into that today? You
know, as we came up with this particular title I was thinking, “Does that mean how
do you love someone when you’re depressed?” Because that might be a good topic to take on. Or does it mean how to love someone who has a depression, who’s
experiencing depression. That’s kind of the direction that I’m thinking to go
with this. Because that’s probably why we’re here. Although, I think that there’s
some value to thinking about that both ways. Because we all experience it.
Maybe that’s the first point that I have to make today is that, “this is a very
common thing to experience.” And it’s not, you know, if I’m depressed, it’s when I’m
depressed. Because we all go through that. It’s a common human experience.
Now when depression becomes a little more ingrained or chronic, it tends to
affect social interactions, it tends to affect the way that we can interact with
people. And I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with people who are experiencing
depression. Here’s a few things that I’ve learned. We’re going to turn down a few
things that might naturally come up in our interactions with people. We’re going
to turn up a few things. Think of this kind of like a volume knob, we’re going
to turn it down or we’re going to turn it up, okay? With that idea in mind, what
do we want to turn down the first thing? I think this is huge folks. The first
thing we want to turn down is judgment. Judgment shows up in a lot of different
ways. Primarily in opinions. And we’re not always aware of our opinions. Notice that
you have them. Even the fact that we’re talking about how to love someone with
depression implies that, “Okay, there’s something different about folks who are
experiencing depression and I need to show up differently
for them.” Even that is a judgment and although it might be mild, it affects the
way that we show up and the impact that we have in that relationship. So, we want
to turn that down. We do that first by being aware of it and any prejudices or
opinions that we’re carrying in our own heart and mind. And just tone that down.
Let’s approach this person as a person, as a friend, as a brother, as a sister, as
someone that we care about and already love. Without getting too hung up on the
title or the diagnosis or the characterization or category that we
would put that person in. Turn down the judgment. As we’re turning down the
judgmentm we want to turn up the volume on being authentic. I’ll put authenticity
here. Being real, being yourself. Not trying to pretend anything but just
showing up as an authentic genuine person. I think we all crave that
authenticity. And along with this goes some vulnerability. As we’re turning up
the authenticity, turn up the vulnerability as well.
Vulnerability is being willing to be open and to share things that might be a
little bit sensitive. It’s not just this person that you’re interacting with who
has stuff going on in their life. You do too. And it’s okay to open up a little
bit about that and be vulnerable and be authentic. Vulnerability I think is the
thing that we all crave in an interaction or communication. It’s also
one of the things we’re most hesitant to offer or give. So, let’s turn up the
volume on being authentic. Going right along with that. We’re going to turn down
the advice. Notice when you’re interacting with someone, especially if
they’re struggling, if they’re having a hard time,
if they’ve got some depression going on. You might feel naturally inclined to
start giving them all kinds of advice. Well you should do this, you should do
that. Typically, not helpful. And a lot of people that I’ve interviewed have
expressed that, that well-meaning, loving people in their lives are trying to tell
them what they should do. That tends to increase feelings of guilt or beating
themselves up because I know I should be doing better. See, they’ve already kind of
beat themselves up about all of this stuff.
Turn down the advice. Let’s just take that knob and just dial it right down.
Because it’s not helping, especially if it’s unsolicited. Even if they’re asking
for advice. Sometimes, it’s not the advice that they need. What they really need is
some kind of connection. So, on the other side of the board, we’re going to turn up
the listening. You know, it’s interesting because the letters in the word listen
are exactly the same as the letters in the word silent. So, we’re going to zip it
just a little bit. Turning down the advice, turning up the listening. You’ve
got two ears in one mouth. Let’s use them in that proportion at least. And just
listen, just connect. Giving that person a chance to express how they’re feeling
without jumping in and trying to fix it. Without offering any unsolicited advice.
We simply listen and I really like the technique that I learned back in
graduate school called “reflective listening.” A reflection, you know, like a
mirror. So, you’re holding up a mirror that shows them, “Oh, here’s what I’m
hearing from you.” And you give it back to them. It might be a phrase like, “So, you’re
really feeling upset about…” And then you give back whatever they just told you. Or
you’re not sure that you can really accomplish whatever, okay? You’re
listening, you’re feeding it back to them or reflecting it to them kind of like
the surface of a mirror, so that I can see that you’re listening. This is
so affirming and it really goes a long way to helping someone who’s struggling
with some depression. Now, as we come to the last point. You have a great heart.
And the fact that you want to help is so admirable and kind. There’s a potential
problem that we really need to watch out for and so I’ll add that as our third
turn down. We want to turn down the project status. Meaning, to what extent is
this loved one, this friend, this person that you’re concerned about, to what
extent have they become “a project for you”, an assignment, a challenge that maybe
you can come in as the knight in shining armor who’s going to save the day. Let’s
just tune down the whole project mentality. This is not a project, it’s a
person. To the extent that you think of this as a project is going to affect how
you show up in that relationship. And instead of thinking of that as a project
or handling it that way, we’re going to turn up the friendship. The genuine human connection that we
might refer to as a friendship. We all go through stuff. There are times when it’s
you that needs a friend. You don’t need to be somebody’s project. But you need a
friend. And there are times when you’re doing pretty well and you’re in a strong
position. Where you can show up as that friend and not someone who thinks that
I’m broken so you turned me into a project. Did you see the feel for that?
Turn down the project, turn up the friendship. You know, relationships are
such a key part of our experience. I’m glad that you care enough to watch this
video. Would you also share it with someone else. I saw standing in the street alone alone

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