Do not try to help someone with depression.
“How can you even say that?” I hear you yelling. “You can’t just leave someone in pain alone. Surely they want help too!”
Sure, I agree. I have struggled with depression for 15 years. But hear me out.
I mentioned in a previous post that a key reason for depression is emotional suppression. The person in front of you is suffering because they cannot accept something. This could be an aspect of themselves (“I hate myself”), or it could be an event that has occurred to them (“How could this be happening to me?”). If they are depressed, they have been suppressing a whole host of emotions inside, such as sadness, anger or regret. The only way to release oneself from this suffering is to completely and fully accept the present, to embrace everything that is occurring both internally and externally (note that this is not the same as passivity). The opposite of depression is to freely express one’s soul.
So this is where the problem of trying to “help” someone with depression lies. You may relieve the suffering of someone as the end result of being with someone, but to have the intention to “save” or “help” will lead to suffering for both parties. To feel that you want to help someone with depression also involves motivations like, “I want to make you happy” or “I don’t want you to be in pain”. This may seem like a noble sentiment, but here is the problem. The flip-side of these thoughts are: “I want to try and change your mood”. If this is the ultimate impetus behind what you are doing, you are actually denying how the person is in the present. In thinking, “I want to make you happy”, you are simultaneously saying, “I do not want you to be who you are in this present moment”. You are not accepting their darkness. This is precisely the opposite of what people with depression need (see also my article on the challenges of being an Empath).
Remember there are no “good” or “bad” moods. All emotions — even painful ones — need to be accepted in order to be released. If the person in front of you is in pain, give them space to accept that pain. To try to do something to change that is to block the natural process of things. It is like building a dam in a river that wants to flow. To approach someone with the intention of helping, while seeming like a great intention, actually is subconsciously sending the message, “I don’t want you to be who you are”. This is not love.
This tactic will backfire too. If you approach people like this, soon you will find a lot of people who won’t respond to your “help”, because in fact you aren’t really helping them in the first place. This will just lead to disappointment and frustration on your end. You may even get angry at the person wondering why they don’t get better more quickly when you’re offering so much “help”. Well, now you know why.
Don’t try and help someone in emotional pain. If you feel a tug to be with them, then go with the flow and be with them. Literally. Just BE. Don’t make solving their problems your goal. Being present can manifest in an infinite number of forms. Anything could happen while you are with the other person. You may want to just be silent. You may listen, you may speak. You may even end up giving them advice. But it all comes from a place of not trying to forcibly change anything around you and going with the flow.
It is highly likely that if you do this, the almost paradoxical end result is that you have helped this person. But “helping” shouldn’t be your first intention. The person suffering is in a state of non-acceptance regarding a lot of things. You being in a state of presence will draw them into your healing light. In fully accepting them, you help them accept themselves.
Bottom line, if you really want to help someone with depression, let that sentiment go. Being yourself, and in doing so inviting them to be themselves, is the best medicine you can offer.