For most people, mental health awareness starts and ends with tips on how to feel better or a shrink recommendation. To be quite honest, there is another side to the whole situation which plays a significant role: the surrounding environment.
How does anyone expect a person to work on themselves a hundred percent without the surroundings conducive to it.? Can a plant survive without sunshine.?
I realized how people have no idea how to be the said sunshine in the lives of individuals living with anxiety/depression.
I came up with the following points that maybe somehow could bring about a change, even a small one, in someone’s life. (This is an ever-growing list and there will always be more ways to help someone. I’m no one to come up with this and everyone’s experiences and needs are different, yet I’d like to try) :
- It really is in the little things, therefore, learn to read between the lines.
- Recognize the patterns:
There are certain patterns unique to each suffering soul. Some defense mechanism that gets activated every time their condition flairs up. It can be the initiation of a food disorder like eating too much or too little, being overly sensitive to trivial matters, being excessively tired/drowsy, or even a disinterest in former pleasure-giving activities.
These usually mean something is up and not in a good way. Rather than calling it drama, asking the person to “cheer up” or “be happy”, ASK the person what is getting them down. Talking it out is the first step to lightening the load. Remember, if they COULD get themselves to cheer up, they WOULD.
- Check up on them:
Once they’ve got it, there’s no living without it. It will always try to creep it’s way back into their routine lives. Hence, if you have even the slightest idea of an internal battle being fought, check up on these warriors every now and then, maybe once in two weeks.
- All that glitter is not gold:
This one’s tricky. A happy exterior does not equal a happy interior. It is usually not easy to figure out if a person is pretending to be okay or no, but certain clues would lie in things like – laughing too much or laughing at anything, overreaction of any sort, zoning out mid conversation, being more withdrawn than usual, etc.
- Let there be no space for guilt:
It is okay to experience negative emotions. Some witness them in greater intensities than others. If you’ve decided to be a part of someone’s journey, then making sure he/she does not feel like a burden is upto you. Engage in conversations that make them believe that it’s OKAY to feel bad sometimes and that it’s OKAY to ask for help in those circumstances. You may have to keep repeating these as frequent reassurance is key.
- False hope is a dangerous thing:
If you are unaware of how to help such a person and would rather just not be associated with the situation, then do exactly that. Stay disconnected. Don’t be a part of their lives. If your lives are simpler without having to deal with their problems and you secretly don’t want to either then do not throw around phrases like “Let me know if you need anything” or “You can talk to me whenever you want”. You will be doing more harm than good by providing them with a false hope that you’re going to be there for them when you just said it to come off as a decent human being. Doing this wouldn’t make you a bad person but it could make all the difference.
Hope this helps!