So this post is one I’ve wanted to do for a while but I wasn’t sure I wanted to open up this much about it. I see similar posts and articles to this everywhere so I feel like now is the most perfect timing.
I wanna start by letting you all know I do not suffer from anxiety or depression, I mean I feel people chuck the word ‘depressed’ around a lot these days and I guess there are also different levels of depression but I have never really experienced it. What I have experienced however, is living with and knowing someone who has rather severe depression/ anxiety.
I feel like this isn’t something that is really talked about. People who suffer from it are voicing it now and telling us how to help them and what we should do when they have a bad spell etc, but you don’t often read about people who don’t suffer but know people who do and how they actively help them. Its so hard to be empathetic towards someone who can’t show up to work cause they have depression when you have never had it, or someone who can’t socialise like they did before because they fear they will have a panic attack. What does a panic attack feel like? For those of you like me, we don’t know and hopefully won’t ever have to. So I feel like I want to voice my experience with this and how I cope and deal with it. It isn’t easy, im still learning.
Let me introduce you to Katie ( my sister):
Beautiful right? What can she be depressed about? Well truthfully, I don’t really know, she has a few specific things that she tells me about but over the years I have gathered that Katie is just a highly emotional and empathetic person, she feels every emotion so much more than average. Stories move Katie, other people’s problems effect her. If you put her out her comfort zone, she hates that. She has her own life and that’s her comfort and I love that.
Where it started:
So for me I noticed her behavior when she was 14/15 and I was around 16. We are really close in age too so although we were so close we also butted heads a lot, especially at that time in our lives. So when she started to get depressed I was to busy doing my own thing, I also didn’t know enough about it, I just thought she was being a moody teen. A lot happened in our lives and I feel like I came out the other end pretty ok and positive about life but she was a broken person. I noticed how she had no confidence, she would lock her self in her room for a long time, would rebel, not tell me anything. I mean that’s when I clued in and was concerned, like how can I be there for her? I don’t understand why she is like this.
How it developed:
She had a boyfriend and although she now knows what a true and genuine relationship is like *shout out to her bf* her ex was not the best, he killed her confidence and she was very young. When he ended it she was crushed, I remember watching her cry and cry for days, and I never understood, like it was just a guy? He wasn’t all that anyway? This is when I realized how heavily she relied on others emotionally, she needed that connection and that companionship. I never, and that was part of my learning curve. Not everyone thinks like me.
How we deal with it now:
So I don’t want to delve too deep into Katie on a personal level, but I feel like you should all know the basics of her depression and anxiety and then I’ll tell you how we deal with it, being sisters.
So Katie and myself live on our own, so we don’t see each other all that often. She face times me quite regularly and when the call starts she is immediately in rant mode, stressed and so angry at everything and everyone. I just listen. You need to just listen, now I used to be so terrible at this – she even cut out an article from a magazine years ago on how to be a better listener and gave it to me lol – I put it in my purse for future reference ha. So listening is half the battle honestly, people with depression/ anxiety bottle a lot of it up, so when they blow and tell you what’s been bothering them, you NEED to listen to them and actually listen, like retain this info. Then comes the advice part, you don’t need to go into detail but just re-assure them and let them know everything is okay. I like to point out all the positives in her life and I like to offer my help where ever possible. One thing I have always been able to do is make Katie laugh till she almost wets herself so I use that to my advantage, I’m not a serious person so I just go goofy on her and she cracks up. Also telling her funny things that have happened to me usually calms her down.
One thing NOT to do is talk about the stressful things happening in your life whilst they are upset or having a bad time, not only is this really frustrating anyway but people who suffer from depression and anxiety tend to harbor emotions from other people’s problems, especially if they care about you. So if I tell Katie hard times I’m going through she will feel it too and get even more upset. That’s not to say she isn’t there for me, she is, she always has been. Once I do this we always end the call on a good note, she has happy, laughing, smiling, and able to go to bed. That’s all I want.
When you are actually with the person and they aren’t feeling to good, you are best to give them their space, but at the same time be there. I know it sounds so annoying but you literally do need to look after them. Feed them, help them, sometimes they won’t leave their bed or shower for a long time, what’s going on in their head affects them physically too and its more than we can imagine so the thought of getting in a shower and getting ready is too much for them to bear. That’s where we come in, just talk to them, soothe them. Katie tells me her boyfriend just hugs her until she feels better.
Now with depression and anxiety also comes a shit load of medication, which changes regularly and can have some serious side effects, so they sometimes need to nap a lot, and you need of be okay with this, every time Katie needs to nap or sit in silence I just allow her. I don’t moan about how I had plans I wanted to do, what’s more important is that she is happy and I want her to get better so if this is how she feels better then I’m cool with that, hell I’ll take a nap too.
Lol how cute is that^
Me and Katie are such foodies so we love going out and grabbing dinner, we have a couple favorite places we like to go to, this is another way of Katie going a little out her comfort zone and being social so I particularly love it. She is just like my happy sister again. So always encourage them to get out and see things, do things, watch a movie! But it’s important to go at their pace, if they don’t feel ready this weekend then that’s okay, we can next weekend.
I don’t think my sister thought I cared when we were growing up, so she didn’t tell me what she was going through, and that’s sad, but I think she knows now that I always have cared, so always show that person you care, be patient and learn from them. I am still learning new ways of helping Katie, sometimes she will tell me and then other times she won’t, but I just feel that I never get to really read about how others cope with someone who has depression and anxiety for me to learn from, which is exactly why I wanted to write this down.
She is still and always will be my best friend:
I hope this at least informs someone, wether you currently know someone with it or you might in the future. If anyone wants to add anything in the comments please feel free! You might actually really help someone!
Until Next Time…