Dealing with the blues
Dealing with difficult friends might be one thing, but dealing with friends during their difficult times might be a whole different ball game altogether. Often, we fail to notice the significance of the difficulties they might be going through, especially if the problems are mental and not material. Coping with friends suffering from depression and trauma may turn out to be very tedious, and one should always think it out before jumping in to help the suffering person. But often, especially with close friends, they need you to be there, because the support of family and friends is something which they will need the most.
We often fail to perceive the seriousness of depression, and exactly how deeply entrenched the condition might be in our friend. Beyond and above all else, we should always make it a point to try and understand the gravity of the situation. Just because we might not have felt it, does not mean it does not exist. And even if we have felt it, it does not have to mean that the friend will be able to deal with it just as well, since depression can occur in varying degrees.
It is very important to hear them out. But it is also very important to not treat them like a patient. If you want to talk to your friend about your own issues, do so. Confiding in them will also make them feel better, since it will make them feel like they’re needed, and that they’re not too ill to help others out. They also need to be reassured about the fact that their friends and family members are there for them, and that they will have the support they need. However, one must not promise them large amounts of support, and not be able to live up to it. This will make them feel put down and hopeless in the long run. They should not be promised unrealistic things.
Trauma is another affliction which is growing more common amongst people today. Terrorism, wars, bombings, riots, child abuse, sexual harassment, rape, and molestation are some of the factors which can cause trauma. Traumatized people feel the way they do, because their very inherent sense of safety has been damaged. They keep getting flashbacks of the horrifying events, they keep getting nightmares, they may feel emotionally numb, and they might feel anxious all the time.
First and foremost, a traumatized friend needs to feel safe. And this can only be done with the support of the closest of friends and family. The person needs help to tide over the trauma, and others need to make him/her feel like they have a solid support system behind them. They need to be given time and space to deal with the trauma, but they also need to be coaxed into talking about it, as gently as possible, so that the memories are not bottled up inside.
One might feel helpless and frustrated while dealing with depressed or traumatized friends. But we need to remember that they need the support, and they need to see strength, and not flakiness.