Dealing with loved ones who are unhappy
There are different versions of this illness, from mild forms to the more serious and life-threatening ones. It is also one of the most difficult illnesses to diagnose and, whether detected or not, it is often misunderstood. Because of its complexity, the person who inherits this illness is also often misunderstood, tragically by those closest to him or her and/or by family. To say nothing about dealing with work colleagues, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. In general terms, this illness is referred to, in some way or another, as a stress disorder, and there are many reasons why such a disorder manifests itself in the person.
The more extreme variant and diagnosis relates to full-blown depression. This is never mild and can never be treated lightly or dismissed. Also, as mentioned earlier, it is not at all easy to detect. In most cases, doctors detect faults and put it down to harmful behavioral patterns such as addiction. But apart from the desperate material situation that forces thousands of indigent people to turn to addictive or compulsive behavior, people who suffer acute depression or bipolar stress disorder turn to these extreme human behavioral patterns either for a false sense of relief or due to the compulsive characteristic of these illnesses. And, tragically, there is no cure. One of the best outlets towards at least controlling the disease at manageable levels is through prescription drugs which can only be prescribed by psychiatrists. So, as a positive affirmation for now, note that while there is no cure for clinically-diagnosed depression, the disease can be managed and treated, much like any other common life-threatening diseases provided the right measures are put in place.
Treatment and care always includes radical lifestyle changes and they are ironically all good for the patient. It is ironical mainly because even people with normal mental health place unnecessary worries on their shoulders through behavior that is not spiritually or emotionally good for them, and by conforming to unhealthy practices as eating processed food with high levels of sugar and salt contents and other artificial stimulants and through leading a sedentary work/life orientation with no exercise (which as a natural stimulant is extremely good for mental health). We have already mentioned the dependence on addictive substances. This is also found in the foods that we eat.
Let us turn to support those who have these incurable mental illnesses. Do not be alarmed or irritated when you come across someone who has the manifestations of a person suffering from compulsive mental disorders or depression. You do not need to be a psychiatrist to be of help. Nor do you need to be a social worker. All you need to do is care and express yourself in the way you were originally designed to do by giving love in its purest form. These are strong-willed words, I know, but to argue my point, your positive (not reactive) behavior towards those less fortunate than yourself can lead to not only a positive life-changing event but also act as a lifesaver.
The rest of this post is dedicated to you by expressing some thought on how you could help, particularly if you have a loved one or family member suffering from this incurable disease. Parents, brothers and sisters who have had experience dealing with fellow family members have recounted some of the most difficult and traumatic days of their lives. This was particularly the case when the disease was not widely known or diagnosed. No-one knew what to do. And the new irony was that not only was the patient filled with endless days of anxiety, he or she had now passed on this anxiety to his fellow-family members who were helpless because they did not really know what to do next. They had good intentions always but the tell-tale signs, other than bitterness and moodiness (which were misinterpreted negatively), were never visible to them or felt.
The best thing you can begin now is practice restraint and do not overreact when your unhappy child snaps or your husband withdraws into his shell even further. Practice being physical. You don’t need to say much at this stage. Simply put your arms around them and tell them softly that you love them. You do not need to mislead them by telling them that you know what they are going through. They know that you mean well but won’t by this false affirmation. Soon, you will know a little bit about what they are going through.
Whether it’s online or from your nearest bookstore, literature is now widely available on the subject of depression leaving much information on how it comes about, how it is treated and especially how you handle things from now on.
Apart from love, you need to show empathy at all times. Even though it is entirely not your field or of little interest to you, you could make a point of offering to join your loved one in an activity that he or she enjoys. The main thing is that you are keeping them company. And on those rare moments that they need to get something off their chest, listen attentively with an open mind and an open heart. A practice always used by psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors is the effective skill of listening, a trait often associated with the most erudite and exemplary leaders in society.
Of course, there will be much more that you will be able to do, but after you’ve educated yourself proactively, you’ll know how to manage the next outburst or withdrawal. Go well and be well.