Five hundred and six

Ups, downs and what to do about a friend who’s depressed

I have been through some ups and downs the past week.  Sometimes I just don’t know what’s gotten into me.  It’s like my hormones have gone crazy and my brain and body are deciding it would be fun to join them on the trampoline.  It’s really not fun.  I try my best not to bring those closest to me into it, but unfortunately there is sometimes some collateral damage.  It also makes me very tired.

When I was in high school I had some crazy highs and lows, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned mostly how to deal with them.  I know if I exercise, eat healthy, keep a balance of work and play, connect with my family and friends, take time to think and organize myself, take time for myself, and use some sort of creative outlet, I can control the ups and downs to a degree.  My friends and family would say I am tame compared to the intensity of my teenage years and early twenties.  So now I just feel a little sad and tired here and there, or a little manic.  I’m okay with that, though.  I’ve learned to laugh about it (or cry a little) and do things on the above list to kick myself out of it.  It makes me appreciate all ranges in the spectrum of emotion.  I think it’s also something many creative people live with.  Those intense emotions help force us into a creative release.

I went to a piloxing class today (cross between boxing and pilates – new to Toronto, class information here from greenfitness.ca) that my friend ran and it made me fell great.  All those endorphins released certainly does help pick me up.  And I had a delicious, healthy dinner.  Everything is coming into perspective again and I’m happy my ups and downs are mellowing out.

How can I help my friend?

“Major depression can occur in 10 to 25 per cent of women — almost twice as many as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women — particularly during times such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy and postpartum, miscarriage, pre-menopause, and menopause.” – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

A couple of days ago I was speaking to a friend and co-worker of mine about depression.  We are both concerned another friend of ours is depressed and we don’t know what to do to help her.  I’ve tried to give her advice about finding something to do that she enjoys and isn’t drinking and partying (which she does a lot of right now), but she just gives me that look that anything she tries is futile.  She pretends like she’s fine, but then will say something about being depressed and not being able to get out of bed in the morning and I worry.  It’s been going on for months now and it doesn’t seem to change.  I don’t think this is something a few veggies and a run will help.

I looked up some websites about depression and I will try to follow their advice (depressionhurts.ca, Canadian Mental Health Association, to name a couple).  But I’m also turning to you out there in the blogger abyss.  I’m sure many of you have dealt with depression in either yourself or someone you loved.  How did you handle it?  What can I do to help my friend?

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10 thoughts on “Five hundred and six

  1. Be there for her as much as you can, do not lecture (doesn’t help). Give her big hugs and try to engage her in activities. Since I have suffered with depression for many years I do know that isolating onself is not good but you do not have the energy to seek friends. Just being there, listening and as said before a hug goes a long way. Wish I could give you more advice, every case is as different as the person is, there is no quick fix and many depressed people loose friends who cannot handle the illness. Be a friend who can:) HUGS!!!!!

    • Thanks Suzanne. I know you’ve been through it, so I really appreciate your advice. I’m trying to be as supportive as I can. I will try to give her lots of hugs and engage her in activities. I have sat with her and just listened and it seems to help a little. I think she just wants to be heard, but it’s hard working in a bar where you are expected to be cheerful all the time. And where people are always drinking away their problems!

  2. It was so great to have you in class! There are many studies saying that exercise is becoming one of the major tools to naturally combat depression because it releases endorphins. The only problem being that most people who are depressed can’t get motivate themselves in the first place. This is why I think Trainers should go through a more rigorous licensing program and be certified the same as massage therapists and naturopaths so that their skills can be restorative. And subsidized by health care.

    • Thanks Jenn! That would definitely make sense to have trainers have restorative skills. Is there a way to lobby for that? It’s definitely hard to be motivated when you’re feeling depressed, but it helps to exercise when you can. Or at least it helps me, that’s for sure.

  3. Get her out and “do” something, anything. Well anything that isn’t adding to the problem. Like drinking. Moving actually helps, any kind. It may only help her for a day or couple of hours, but one step at a time.

    Hope she feels better! I used to call it the abyss. The place you go when you give in to the depression. It’s a hard place to climb out of, but wonderful friends who love you help. Even if you can’t see it at the time.

    • Thanks Sar. I know you understand this more than most people. I am trying to find things she might be interested in that don’t involve drinking. She’s pretty good at coming if I suggest something. I just don’t think she has the motivation to do it on her own. I can see her slipping into the “abyss” though.

  4. You’re incredible! Both for introducing piloxing (two of my FAVE exercises), and for being real. I totally get the ups and downs, and like, we are all here for you, whatever emotions come tidaling in :D

    Pink.

    • Thanks Pink. It’s good to have an outlet, like the blog and my writing, to get some of the crazy emotions out of me. I’m sure you understand that! And it’s nice to know people are reading and supporting me, no matter how I’m feeling.

      • Absolutely! Love reading whatever you are feeling. It’s what makes for great memoirs! As according to Abigail Thomas, “Thinking About Memoir” :D Woo!

        Pink.

  5. I echo Pink here and tell you how we appreciate your openness and how real you are – but I think I’ve told you that before :) There’s a lot of good advice being given here. It’s also good to remember to help yourself when you are helping someone else. It’s easy to feel drained after giving so much to someone, and it’s important that you “re-fill” – that you do something to make sure that you have something to give.

    You already know I come at things from a spiritual perspective, so can I also add to the great advice being given – why not take her to a church service or something that would speak HOPE into her life? Everyone is touched by depression, just look at the Psalms or any number of the prophetic books of the Old Testament and you’ll see plenty of it. But, for as much woe that is there, things always end on an upward climb because of hope. Maybe simply sitting through a song service or hearing an encouraging message would spark some life into her. And churches are also a great place to receive good counsel, and often it is free.

    On another note… I am impressed that your blog post that broke the 500 barrier wasn’t typical of that type of thing – but that you are instead reaching out to us all on behalf of a freind (and yourself of course). Another reason we love to read you, Lindsay.
    :)

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