So last time we discussed several tips on how to deal with depressions as a gamer but there is one thing we did not discuss. You might not struggle with mental illness yourself, but one of your friends might, and being a support or a friend to people who are depressed can be a tough job, nearly as tough as having a depression. We all want to do good for our friends and help them get through this but how far can you go? Where do you draw the line and how do you pull back once things are getting better? Let’s start with some very straightforward and simple guidelines.
1. Do not tell them to ‘suck it up Buttercup’
Okay, the line may be hilarious but probably one of the (if not the) worst thing to say to somebody struggling with depression. Depression isn’t something you choose to have or is your own fault for getting it. Depressions have different sources in the human psyche, meaning they can be a result of recent events (losing a loved one or getting fired) to long term struggles (bullying in school, low self-image, mental disorders). Each person going through a depression will have to do it themselves in the end but knowing you support them is already a big thing. No they are not begging for attention and no they’re not doing this because they’re lazy or because they’re too weak. Try placing yourself in their position, be understanding and caring, but don’t agree with everything they say. Here we’ve arrived at the second point.
2. Do not get dragged into their vicious circle
People with depression tend to have been struggling for a while already before admitting they are depressed, and as their friend, be prepared to be countered on every single hint and sentence you say to them. They live with their thoughts day in and out, constantly having to fight and parry them, trying to get through the night without crying themselves to sleep. So, 99% chances will be that whatever you want to say to them to help them, they’ve thought it themselves, tried it or their thoughts have found a reason to counteract it. This might be frustrating but remain calm. Getting angry at them won’t help anyone. Be understanding, listen to them but don’t agree with all they say. You might get dragged down in their way of thinking and find yourself going to a dark place. First and foremost, keep yourself mentally healthy! You can’t help if you’re having issues yourself you have to deal with!
3. Get them to DO SOMETHING!
Depressions go hand in hand with thoughts paralyzing you and most depressions occur when people can no longer control or handle their thoughts, being a victim to their own minds. Distract them from these thoughts with fun activities and make them forget their thoughts for a while! Scream louder out of joy than the thoughts can yell! If your friend games, play a game with him or go jog/sport do something active! In the beginning, you’ll have to force him or her a bit because someone who’s depressed won’t find joy in anything and won’t feel like doing anything. But after a while, they’ll find themselves noticing that doing something is a lot better than lying around crying and thinking. This does not mean you have to drug them and drag them along, for in some countries, this is frowned upon. Try doing things they used to do and liked before the depression, for those interests will be easier to rekindle inside of their minds!
4. Give them their space but also stick around.
This is a hard one because you have to find the boundary between helping them and pressing yourself upon them. Give them their space, tell them you’re around and you’re there for them if they need you, and just back off. Some people with depressions just need time alone from time to time because human contact can be stressful and tiring. Let them come to you for help first, and once they’ve asked for help, you can use the tips above. If they do not approach you, just act casual around them, don’t avoid the topic but don’t focus on it. They’ve got the depression being focused on 24/7 by their own thoughts and mind and they don’t need you to do the same. If they don’t approach you, it might be they simply don’t trust you that much with these things or aren’t very open people. Pride and the thought ‘I have to deal with my own problems’ will pass their mind several times so don’t be offended if they don’t want your help but rather be honoured if they do approach you.
5. Last but not least, take your time.
You’re bound to make mistakes and say wrong things making things worse from time to time but that’s okay! We all make mistakes and even professional therapists need a lot of time to gain experience to learn how to deal with different sets of situations. Don’t set yourself a timeline because a depression can vary in time from person to person, ranging from a month to several years or perhaps even a lifetime. Never rush things because he or she will miss out on school or get fired, mental health comes first! Time is the only thing somebody with depression has too much of! Too much time with their thoughts alone so let them take their time and go by their own pace. Just make sure they have a pace and are not standing still, wallowing in a deep pit with nobody else around.
If you have any more questions, please do ask. I mainly speak from experience with having depressions and helping people out on a semi-professional level. I hope none of you will ever need these tips but we’ll have to deal with the reality that depressions are the most common illness in our society so let’s stop silencing it to death and come out to speak about!