How to Help a Friend in Distress: The Question of the Week
I have to say that this has been a humdinger (is this a aword?) of a month for me. I have been struggling with a bout of depression which is very clingy. It doesn't seem to want to let go. I feel much like Sisyphus, the Greek dude from mythology who is punished by having to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again. And again. Into infinity. Okay so my depression is not quite at the level of myths or legends yet. But it is sort of how it feels sometimes. You fall down, you pick yourself up and you fall down again. I just want to stay up for a little while and enjoy it. :>)
Sometimes I get anxious wondering what is the next thing around the corner to make things bad or make me feel as though I have no control? Do you ever feel that way?
However, the wonderful thing in all of this (yes there sometimes is a silver lining to depression) is the closeness and friendship I have felt with others despite my dark days. And I am so very grateful. There are some days when a bit of kindness can make me cry.
Today I was feeling down and my phone rang. It was one of my best friends. I knew something was wrong the minute I heard her voice. Her father is about to be diagnosed with leukemia. She doesn't have any siblings and her mother passed away a couple of years ago. She has preschool age children as well as teens and one in college. And two of her children have some serious medical challenges. Her phone call and news was like someone had twisted my neck around. Whatever I was going through fell away. I wanted to be fully present for my friend.
I asked my friend what I could do? Make food? (she knows I am a horrible cook) Babysit? (she knows this would be next to impossible as I have a son with autism who needs constant care). I was beginning to feel useless when she answered simply, No I don't want you to cook or babysit. I just want you to be here for me." I cried at the words. "Yes I am here for you and will be here for you no matter what." She told me to send her funny things in emails...to lighten her up....and above all to be normal. She explained, "I don't want you hiding your own problems and pretending your life is a bed of roses just because because I am going through this." I think this is one of the kindest things ever said to me.
So I cried with her on the phone. Her father's prognosis is probably not so good. Her father is a very kind and good man. I am sad for her, for him, and some for myself. In a vicarious way I have always enjoyed seeing their closeness...father and daughter. I never got to have that as my father died so early on in my childhood. So I know how very important her dad is to my friend.
So after writing this "novel" today I am finally getting to our question of the week.
How do you help a friend who is in distress? What things do you say or do to help? And how do you give and help someone who is depressed or in crisis when you are feeling depressed yourself?
I wanted to thank everyone who participates on this site. Something you say just might help someone else today. I know I have been helped many times by the things you share here whether it is a story, a comment, or just a kind word.