With all the information out there, we're now able to explain the inner-workings of depression on a physical, mental, emotional, neurological, and even spiritual level. We have access to proven tactics, strategies, and approaches to get through it and out onto the other side. Similar to fitness and nutrition, there's no shortage of information.
But also like fitness and nutrition, information doesn't serve us if we don't use it. For those struggling with depression, information is rarely the answer. Knowing "what to do" is never enough. Perhaps this is the most challenging aspect of helping a loved one navigate through, and ultimately out of depression.
We can share all the truths, wisdom, and guidance we know in order to help a loved one, but at the end of the day, it's possible that none of it will work. And that can be scary. It can be scary to think that no matter what you do, what you say, or what you share, it simply might not be enough.
So what is the answer?
I'm learning and exploring this question right now in my life.
Perhaps the answer is to offer unconditional love, which isn't always easy.
Perhaps the answer is to learn to be present amidst the pain of others.
Perhaps the answer is to be patient, no matter how long it takes.
Perhaps the answer is to recognize patterns, and then offer new perspectives.
Perhaps the answer is that every individual needs to go through their own journey, and you can only be beside them, but you can never be them.
Perhaps the answer is to live your life to the fullest without being burdened by your loved ones.
Perhaps the answer is to be a role model.
Perhaps the answer is that there is no answer.
Parents are probably most familiar with this pain. They can literally devote their lives to the well-being of their children, but even that doesn’t always work out. Kids still run away, teens still commit suicide, or get addicted to drugs. All very scary stuff.
Just like your loved one is on their journey and you can only be by their side, you’re on your own journey, and no one else can steer your ship. You can take inputs from others, but you’re the only one every second of every day, for the rest of your life, who gets to decide where to direct your energy.
Perhaps this is the most important thing we need to take away - accepting what's simply out of our control, no matter how in control it might feel to us, no matter how responsible we might feel for the outcome.
I invite you to share your own experience in helping your loved ones navigate through difficult times. What did you find helpful, either for them, or for yourself? What was the most challenging part? Please share to help others in this small community we call humankind.
Live with substance!