I feel like I've lost my friend to depression, what can I do to help?

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Jodie Dean on Dec 01, 2015 • 2 answers
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My friend has had depression for three years now and at first I did everything in my power to help her. I took her on holiday, went round to help with housework and was there for her 24/7. But after three years I find it very exhausting. She's always so negative, she won't enquire about counseling or alt therapy. I feel annoyed by her lack of motivation seek help. What can I do?

Answers

Hi Jodie,
It sounds like you are being a great friend already. There is only so much you can do. Even with counselling, the individual must want to change to begin the process as it will be them doing the work. You could enquire as to her motivation not to seek help. Sometimes coming at it from this angle can help. Alternatively, you can suggest audiotapes, which can seem less clinical or daunting (Anthony Robbins is great but have a look around for what you think would suit her best). However, it is important for you to know that you are not responsible for the outcome and you have to let go of seeing her successes as your own to avoid the frustration. As I said before, it sounds like you are already being a wonderful friend and sometimes just being there is enough while she figures it out.

Go to the profile of Jodie Jackson
Jodie Jackson on Dec 01, 2015
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Hi Jodie, I've been thinking about your question and a couple of things come to mind. Firstly as Jodie says - I hear how much you really care about your friend and want to support her. I also hear your exhaustion and I think there are clues in what you've said and the way you've said it that might help to explore. You ask what can you do ... here's some suggestions to help you feel more empowered ...

1. Steven Covey talks about circle of concerns and influence. Sometimes we get caught putting effort to things that worry us but we actually don't have influence over. Trying to change someone else's motivation or behaviour isn't working in a circle of influence. It leaves us in a self defeating pattern where we put our energy into things that we really have no influence over. Asking what can I influence helps to keep your energy focused on the things you can.

2. Have a look at this animation from Brene Brown about the power of empathy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz1g1SpD9Zo I find this such a powerful reminder for meeting people where they are and how empathy can crack open the most challenging circumstances. I'm also reminded by these radio adverts that are out at the moment - http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talking-about-mental-health. I find these videos really helpful to remember it's the small things that make a big difference.

3. Get curious about what's going on for you in all of this to get yourself empowered. Your annoyance is guidance. You say you "lost your friend to depression." What are you missing from your old friendship and how can you meet those needs differently for yourself?

4. Check out Byron Katie The Works http://thework.com/en/do-work
It's a series of questions that you can work through that I sense might help.

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Vanessa Anstee on Dec 02, 2015
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