When a loved one is dealing with depression

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Your loved one or friend suffers from chronic depression, and you’d do anything for them. But sometimes you wonder if you’re doing more harm than good.

Besides feeling as if almost everything you say ends up being wrong, the longevity of their depression is beginning to wear on you.
When my family and several of my friends read this week’s column, I suspect they’ll recall the frustration and exhaustion they experienced during my long years of chronic depression. As mentally and physically exhausting as the struggle was for me, I’m sure I’ll never fully appreciate how difficult it was for them, as well.
Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to validate the despair and hopelessness your depressed friend is experiencing. Not to mention the shame for being “such a disappointment.” And the guilt for “not pulling [their] weight” and for “needing you so much.”
I’d also like to (at least attempt to) validate the genuine frustration and exhaustion those of you who valiantly try to be there for your loved one feel. In your sincere efforts to be available, you, too, experience a sense of despair “for not being able to do enough” and guilt for all the times you’ve screamed, “Why don’t you just snap out of it and try harder!”
Thankfully, your heavenly Father compassionately watches over you, your friend and each one of us. 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) says, “[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” The Amplified Bible says God cares about us “with deepest affection.”
God knows we’re not equipped to shoulder anxieties, worries and concerns – our own or anybody else’s. We can cast (or throw) whatever causes us distress onto His huge shoulders.
Whenever we try to do anything (including helping someone in trouble) or bear anything (including depression) in our own strength, we become physically and emotionally drained.
Then, rather than experiencing a breakthrough, we end up discouraged and worse off. A sense of hopelessness sets in.
But when we can go to Someone Who loves us with deepest affection and give Him all our concerns, a weight lifts off us. So that those of you who are experiencing depression, as well as those of you who love them, will both begin to feel less exhausted and better about life. And may finally … discover hope.
Sheryl H. Boldt, a Franklin County resident, is the author of the blog, www.TodayCanBeDifferent.net. Connect with her at SherylHBoldt@gmail.com

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