Last updated: 11/6/2020
I would like to dedicate Depression – helping hand article to my dear wife, M, who has fallen under the spell of anxiety and depression multiple times in her life, due to past childhood trauma and a recently diagnosed chronic illness.
M, thank you for allowing me to help you in difficult times. I wasn’t always as patient as I should be. I am grateful for your patience and understanding. Thank you for tolerating me and your support during my downtime whilst you were recovering.
I wiped your tears, I sheltered you with my arms, I said these words which made you feel safe. “Darling, you can always rely on me, I will always be here for you. No amount of anxiety will push me away. I love you!”
My friends and Worry Head supporters. You’re either here because you are supporting a loved one who is struggling with depression and you want to find a way to help, or because you are yourself suffering from anxiety and depression and are looking for some support.
A word for supporters:
You are here because you might feel confused, frustrated or maybe you feel like I used to – like walking on eggshells because you’re afraid of upsetting your loved one even more.
Maybe you’re simply at such a loss that you’ve decided to adopt my approach – you chose to put up with it and sacrifice your all for that person not thinking of your own mental well-being and you have to be strong for that person.
Whatever your reason, depression is an insidious, isolating, and terrifying mental disorder, which can sabotage your relationship on every level. Besides, it can make not knowing how to help your loved one even more confusing.
Supporters, your support is important!
In this article, you are going to learn the various ways to support your loved one. Below I have given you plenty of valuable pointers…
Over the years I have learned that the best thing that you can do for someone with depression is to be there. It’s simple and at the same time difficult.
For your loved one who struggles with depression, the most healing moments will be when you simply sit with that person when he/she cries. You may also hold their hand or speak warmly to them with statements such as “you’re so important to me.”
Ask that person what you can do to help him/her. Say that “you’re going to find a way to help your loved one to feel better.”
I myself have done this on numerous occasions when my wife felt most helpless. She was on the verge of destruction not knowing which way to turn. M saw the light in me. She knew she was safe in my arms.
Do that most important thing for your loved one and simply be there. Be natural, say whatever comes to your mind, as long as it’s warm and caring.
There is no magic formula, you simply have to be there…
A helping hand.
Humans are social animals and almost all our behaviour is governed by the reason to feel safe.
When we lock the door at night we feel safe, having someone who cares for us beside us makes us feel safe. When we are hurt or feel sad we want people around us. We want someone near us.
Unless you live on the street, in a war zone, or have no family, it is difficult to imagine that you can get depressed. In the eyes of those who have never been through a chronic illness such as endometriosis, it is difficult to comprehend, why we get depressed.
People have different reasons because what matters to you might not be important to me and difficult events that have happened in your life may not have happened to me.
This is why my wife previously suffered from anxiety and depression throughout her teenage years and her early adolescence, while I did not.
Some people may have lost passion for what they were doing. Other people may have experienced past trauma, as was the case for my wife, and others may be suffering from physical illness, chronic pain, or disability which causes them to have a poor quality of life.
My wife unfortunately also now suffers from a chronic physical illness which causes her a lot of pain and makes life even harder for her.
No matter what the reason is, I have noticed a similar pattern to people who suffer from anxiety and depression. Before they actually start showing symptoms, they tend to be people that keep their emotions bottled up.
This build-up of emotions is never good, it needs to be released at some point.
Superficially they should be happy if they have a job, a house, or a family. But they don’t want to admit that they are not happy. They don’t want to admit, they don’t want to get up every morning and repeat the same pattern again.
So they keep things to themselves.
Don't hide your feelings!
My wife believed that other people had real stress, real problems. Yes, she had more than her fair share of reasons to feel depressed, but at the same time, she knew had a loving husband, a loving mother, a roof over her head, and food on her plate.
M believed she shouldn’t feel this way, yet she did.
She felt that her loss of passion for life was not a good enough reason to be depressed and she felt selfish for being so. She felt like a burden to me and her family.
So her whole energy went into pretending in public that she was OK. My wife wanted to hide her feelings and her pain from the public, her boss, her workmates even her closest friends, and sometimes even from me.
My wife was on autopilot. It was hard.
I have to admit, it was a really dark period, and she was in a really dark place.
So then I began to ask myself the question. Why?
Why does she actually get up in the morning? She says she has no meaning, no purpose, she’s a burden, she hurts. Why does my wife still get up every morning?
Was it for work? Many people would say yes. Maybe she got up for those who love her, like myself and her mum? To make us happy? Sure! These things mattered to her. But what about herself? What about her own needs?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why do you get up every morning? What is your purpose in life? Do you have a goal?
We are more than animals, we use our brains. But because we do, it gets complicated. We don’t just live to survive like a lion or gazelle. We have emotions and aspirations.
By asking the very question, “Why do I get up every morning?”, do I sound depressed? Maybe. Am I depressed? No.
So why do I ask that question?
Because it’s important. I have found my “Why?”.
Whilst my wife was fighting her endometriosis and was in a deep depression, I decided to write a book about her struggles.
Showing her the book I was writing made her smile and cry a little, and when she had finished reading it she said “I need to edit your grammar mistakes, darling!”
I had written it in what she calls Polish-English. Of course, being of Polish origin, sometimes the meaning of what I wanted to say came across wrong.
She started to correct my mistakes and reminded me of things that I missed out on. But already I could see a lift in her mood.
Something as small as editing my book gave her a reason to keep going and think ahead, get herself busy with something. It certainly helped her lift out of her depression quicker.
I noticed a new sparkle and sense of hope in my wife that I hadn’t seen for a long time.
I knew the book would be finished soon, and I began to think of ideas to write more about our experiences with anxiety, depression, and endometriosis. After some research, I came up with the idea of writing a blog.
I started to write my blog and my wife agreed to be the editor, but soon after she started to take an interest in writing her own articles to help and support people in her situation.
The very fact that she was doing this, helped her to focus on doing something good and gave more meaning to her life. It also helped her to write about the things she had experienced and the knowledge she had acquired along the way.
Fast forward eight months and 15 weeks and we have achieved the creation of our blog. We have between us written a few articles and posts, and we are doing pretty well for such a young website.
Find your "WHY".
Our lives function on three levels – what we do, how we do it, why we do it. The majority of us can articulate what they do, some of us can tell how we do it, but very few can tell us the reason why.
It brings us back to the question “Why?”. The cause, the reason, the belief that inspires you to get up every morning.
It’s not about money, this is the result of your work.
I understand that people suffering from severe, deep depression might not agree with the statement that you need a loved one or someone who cares for you to be by your side, because when you are depressed you actually want to hide in your shell.
But in order to get through the fear, we need other people. It seems ironic that during the times when you most need others around you, you may feel the opposite and you actually might want to be alone.
This might be because you feel ashamed and don’t want to show your depression or anxiety to people. Maybe it’s too painful or risky to stick your neck out and ask for help.
You might feel like you want to do the journey alone because you don’t want to hurt anyone else with your thoughts or feelings.
In other words, you want to carry the burden alone.
You are like an animal who has been injured trying to struggle and escape from the people who are trying to help or save you. You feel vulnerable and so you don’t want to be exposed to more vulnerability.
These feelings might also be due to a feeling of humiliation or failure. We put a wall up in order to protect ourselves, but the irony is that it does more damage than good.
When we willingly help those struggling with their problems, automatically we see the reason to get up every morning and we find the answer to the “why?” question.
By helping others we find courage in ourselves and the will to continue, to get up every morning and keep going.
It is when we help someone and give, not expecting anything in return that we feel accomplished. I saw my wife collapse many times either from panic attacks or due to anemia when she was bleeding heavily, and we were always blessed with a bunch of goodhearted people who were willing to help us.
People want to feel safe, they want to feel wanted and to be valued. It applies to everyone regardless of their situation.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, these feelings are even stronger. People suffering from mental illness don’t feel that they fit culturally. There is a stigma attached to those who suffer.
This is why they try to hide their feelings and problems.
It is difficult for them to open up because that is the nature of depression. To get out of this cycle of fear doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and trust.
You need to be patient and allow your loved one to work through things in their own time, but what you cannot do is abandon them. If you do, it will be incredibly hard for them, and they might even give up.
Offer a helping hand and you’ll see miracles will happen. Just be there.
There is no single human being on the planet that has ever achieved anything of value by themselves, without the help of others. Success is a team sport. You can fail by yourself, but you can’t win alone.
This applies to mental health. It is incredibly hard if not impossible to get out of depression alone.
You need a helping hand. It might be the help of professionals such as a therapist, but you also need to have someone who believes in you, someone who has your back, such as a loved one, friend, or even a support group.
We know that for people suffering from depression their life might feel pointless right now. We understand how difficult everything can become. What it’s like to feel worn down just by trying to exist and stay afloat.
Anxiety and depression can wear you down to the point, where you have no energy left at all. Then you begin to wonder, as my lovely wife used to, “What is the point of anything?”
My wife went through this multiple times in her life already. Today, since her diagnosis and surgery, she is struggling a little again due to ongoing chronic pain and symptoms, but she is making progress.
I can see how hard she’s working to hold things together. How keeping things going feels like a superhuman achievement under the spell of anxiety and depression.
She has surprisingly managed to go back to work and go back to Latin and Ballroom classes with a view to us participating in a competition in a couple of months, and this is despite the pain and symptoms she still feels.
Sometimes she has bad days and cries because she feels as though her life as she knew it has been taken by this awful disease, but then she picks herself up and carries on.
She refuses to let it rule her life completely and still has hope that things will get better, and if they don’t she will do everything she can to enjoy the life she can have!
Under the spell of depression, even making a decision on what jumper to wear can difficult, and sometimes even just getting dressed at all.
But we know that you’re doing your best. Yes, you’re trying your best to keep the house running, look after your family, and manage your money. Maybe, “on a good day”, you even manage to clean the kitchen.
Life will let you down. It always will and you need to remember that. Life isn’t sunshine and puppy cuddles. When you feel really low, it can be extremely difficult to find the motivation or meaning in your life. This is why I mentioned the importance of the “Why?” question.
Sometimes you can find your reason why, but it might be really exhausting to keep going with everything.
But there is always a glimmer of hope on the horizon if you reach out to someone and ask for help. Just knowing that you have a helping hand nearby, can help you to overcome your difficulties.
Without another person or people, everything seems pointless.
The fact that you’re still waking up each morning and trying to face the day, even though it might not be for yourself but for that special someone, is a good start.
When life feels pointless, we struggle to find any meaning in the things we do. Even your loved ones seem out of reach because you blame yourself for them having to put up with you, you feel like a burden to them, even though they want to give you love and support.
Depression blinds your reasons to live, suicidal thoughts can become louder. This dark cloud surrounds you and covers your mind. You feel that the lack of reasons to live and the lack of meaning is evidence to give up.
When this happens, you can’t find any hope. But you must never forget to reach out to a friend, family member, or even a professional for some support. It is not game over, don’t give up! If you reach out, you will be surprised by the positive result!
You are allowed to cry, scream, to get upset, or to feel frustrated. And heck yes – you should! Get rid of these negative emotions. The build-up needs to be released.
We know how unfair all of this is. But you are allowed to feel. It’s human.
We’re allowed to take up space to ask for hugs, to ask for a shoulder to cry on, it’s what makes us human. These are our basic needs.
You deserve support. You’re important and your life is important. You deserve to feel safe.
There is no magic formula!
You may experience times when no matter how hard you try, life continues to feel pointless. People may seem selfish to you, and even though there is a small number of those who are selfish, the majority of us are simply thinking of our own safety.
It doesn’t mean that people don’t care, they might simply be busy or occupied by something very important to them.
It could even be their own loved one suffering from depression or illness, who needs their support and they have to prioritize them. We should never judge others as we don’t know their story.
Sometimes we feel stuck. We know that we’re not where we want to be in life but still, we don’t know what it is that we want, let alone how to get there.
This is why it’s important, to begin with, the question “Why?”. If you begin with “How?” or “What?” you might struggle to find the solution because our pattern of thinking has the habit of what-how-why?
If you reverse the pattern, you can find the solution, because you don’t know what you want to do if you don’t have a goal or the reason why you want to do it in the first place.
You know what you want. You want to get out of depression, right? But how are you going to do it, if you don’t see the point in the first place, which is the reason why depression makes you feel numb and careless about the future.
Now imagine this, just reverse the pattern. Begin with “Why?”, and you have a reason to move on in the first place! It makes it easier to see how you are going to get out of depression.
Life can feel pointless because you’re putting all of your precious time and energy into things that aren’t fulfilling you, and so you feel empty. Do more of what makes you happy!
At times like these, you need to take little steps, you need to aim for little changes, instead of the things that feel totally out of our reach.
You could try changing something really small, like what you have for breakfast. Making little changes can shake things up.
Perhaps you could try something new, as my wife did. She asked me to start Latin-ballroom classes and we share this passion today. Giving things a go could lead you to find a passion for something that you’d never even thought about before.
If you find something that you and your friend or your loved one both like, you will make a huge step. It will be a milestone in your recovery.
And remember, you are not pointless! Your life is not pointless but has meaning. You are here in this world for a reason, not to suffer, but because you have a purpose.
You can accomplish anything you want, but you need to change your mindset. Thinking about your problem never solves it, act on it and you will.
Our unrealistic expectations of ourselves can leave us feeling useless and pointless because we never feel that we are enough. Just think about it… If we weren’t enough as humans, our race would extinct.
You can contribute to someone else’s life by improving it. You don’t believe me? Let me prove to you otherwise – you, my friend know things I don’t, but you my friend know things that other people don’t. We all have different talents. Use yours.
It doesn’t have to be huge. Goodness isn’t measured with numbers. No one says “last month I did 7 things for you and you’ve done 3”.
Just help others and it will make you feel worthy.
If you are feeling like your life is pointless right now, remember that no one expects you to get out of bed and run a marathon. People will hear you if you reach them. They will stand alongside you. That’s human nature.
I hope that you’re able to do a little bit of self-care. I hope that this article will allow you to make some little changes in your temporary situation.
Don’t forget the question “Why?”
We hope that you can think back to all of the times that you’ve coped in the past and that you recognize how strong you really are.
You are capable of impossible things. We hope that you feel able to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to make these steps. No matter how small, keep stepping.
“If you’re going through hell, keep walking” – Winston Churchill
Books that can help:
My wife tried to grasp as much support as she could, all in search of a solution, to help herself and to answer questions she had.
She began by reading a lot of books. I have to agree, these books are very helpful in helping you understand your anxiety and depression, and helping you get out of the cycle. You can access them by clicking on each one below. Allow me to list them for you:
You may access these books by clicking either on the links above or the book covers below…
My wife have read this book in a jiffy! It helped her during her dark times to find compassion and love for herself. For somebody like M, who suffered from severe depression, I noticed that the harshest critic of her was herself. It is never helpful to be told to pull ourselves together by others but saying it to ourselves leads us in only one direction – into a terrible despair.
I listed this book because M also suffered from anxiety at that time, it helped her mindset and depression. AN obsessing, ruminating and dwelling on things may or may not happen, but this book makes it simple to understand, how to manage your fear. Your brain is a very powerful tool, and the more you work to change your mindset, the better you’re going to feel.
This is another book which my wife reached for during her depression, because it offered my wife a self-help programme, written by one of the leading authorities in CBT. M also suffered at the time with OCD. A whole range of anxieties and fears are explained, from panic attacks and phobias to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalised anxiety. That really helped her!
Take care of yourself! You matter more than anyone else! Invest in your well-being so that you can be the best person you can be for others!
Practice self-help and find your “WHY”…
Relieve your anxiety!
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As a husband of a woman who went through extreme anxiety and panic attacks, I wanted to break the pattern of waiting in a long cue for Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
My wife waited for 9 long months! I want you to avoid the same problem.
This is why I decided to create these lessons.
Why should you trust me?
Because I based them on two books – “Mini CBT WorkBook” by Dr. Michael Sinclair, and “The CBT Handbook” by Roz Shafran & Pamela Myles. Additionally, I attended my wife’s CBT as I was invited by her therapist.
You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. And remember – it’s totally FREE!
Meet the couple!
After years of trial and error, professional help, and some brutal honesty, we have found a way to keep our marriage healthy.
Despite chronic illness, pain, and mental health struggles, which made our relationship extremely challenging, we found a way of making things work.
But still, we fell flat on our faces, and from the verge of losing my wife, to a joyful & loving marriage, we found a way of making things work!
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