written by
Trudi Pavlovsky

The Missed Step When Supporting Someone Who Is Depressed.

Mindset 8 min read

It starts with supporting yourself first, so then you are best set up to support the one you care about.

And not enough people are being told this.

I was asked a question yesterday in a private message about how to support somebody who is depressed.

So whether they’re high functioning, or whether they’re at the stage of really struggling to get out of bed, having been somebody who has functioned in both elements, I wanted to bring my personal experience to this.

The first thing I really want to highlight if you have somebody in your life who is depressed right now, you really need to make sure that you’re being supported through this as well.

It’s very easy to feel like you have to be courageous, you have to be brave, you have to hold it all together for everyone.

While you are doing all of that, please make sure that you are being supported as well in your space.

Being that support person for somebody, you will have often heard me say with coaching: a good coach doesn’t get down in the hole with the person. 

The good coach is putting their hand down to lift the person out.

So it’s really, it’s really important, that you are being looked after so you can stay elevated and lift others up.

I say that with all of the love because there is no reason you need to sacrifice your own joy in living, to support other people who are struggling to find their own.

We have mirror neurons, which means it’s quite natural for us to want to meet people where they’re at. We are biochemically, neurologically developed to do that, so we stay part of the collective.

Your energy dropping down, does not serve anyone who is in the space where they need to be elevating and lifting up.

Sacrificing your own joy is not going to help somebody who is depressed, even though it might feel like the natural thing to do.

An example is if you’re in a relationship with somebody or friends with somebody, and they’re feeling down and flat, sitting down flat with them all of the time and not doing the things that you love DOES.NOT.HELP.

Yes, it’s being supportive, but it’s not helping you and it’s not actually showing them there is another way to live.

When supporting somebody, and this was my own experience, this was something that really helped me.

It was the loving conversation.

You know, I love you. And I see that you’re down g and I see how you are feeling. And I’m here for you. 

But I can’t stop living my life for you.

I’m still going to go out and do the things that make me happy. But please know, I still love you and I’m here.

So the conversation was a little bit more detailed than that. But the energy behind it was I’m not sacrificing myself.

I’m going to show you that life is good.

And I’m always going to encourage you and I’m always going to support you and I’m always going to include you. 

I understand why you might not want to join in and be included all of the time.

But my life isn’t going to stop, because this is where sacrifice thing comes in.

And then we feel like we have to sacrifice we lose our joy in that space.

And we’re not demonstrating a different way of being for the other person. Because you know, neurologically and mirror neurons, we arent giving them the opportunity to match up with us.

Now, this is generalized.

If you are on medication, if you’re seeing a doctor, you’re going to keep doing all of that stuff as well if you’re depressed.

I think medication does have a place in a person’s recovery.

But remember, if you’re the person supporting, there’s no need to sacrifice so go and have the loving conversations.

Stopping your own life isn’t going to help the person who’s depressed.

Chances are they’re going to start layering more guilt and more shame and more judgment on themselves. 

If they see you stopping enjoying your life, I know when I was in that space, it was all they’re unhappy, they’re upset BECAUSE OF ME.

That made me feel even more useless, and strengthened the I’m bad inner talk.

But seeing people go out and have fun in their life and still enjoying it, and being inclusive, even if I wasn’t stepping up all of the time, allowed me when I was in that space to feel loved and still feel a level of okayness if that makes sense.

 There was also a bad side that I experienced which was total abandonment.

 So if you are struggling to support somebody, let them know.

Don’t just disappear.

Don’t just show up and say all right, well, you’ll be all right. I’m out and then disappear from their lives like that.

It’s a fine line, right? You dance, the dance. 

The line where you supporting somebody who’s depressed or anxious or unhappy, but completely disappearing and abandoning them isn’t going to help.

There’s a caveat here though, if it is actually hurting you and causing you damage to be around that and attempting to support them, have the loving conversation and let them know that you’re not abandoning then you actually have to step back and look after yourself first because you’re not able to support and cope with it.

So I know when people were dealing with me when I was in my really, really low spaces, they struggled.

It’s hard when you love somebody and you can see their pain and you want to support them. You know, it’s that dance along the line.

But abandonment is the worst thing that you could do.

That’s the bad side of of managing it. You need to have the loving conversations.

Don’t sacrifice yourself.

I had a former boyfriend take me to the doctor, after I self harmed and had had a failed attempt to end my life.

And he was very loving in that he had the loving conversation with me.

He said he couldn’t keep supporting me like this. And he for his own health, he had to step away.

And it was done in a way where I took a level of responsibility in my own actions.

I understood that this was my choice to behave like this and to feel like this.

It inspired me to start looking for a way to move forward in my own life and let go of being a victim in my own story. 

It gave me the momentum to actually say to myself, I can’t live like this either. I’m losing the people around me. 

There was some abandonment people, there was some very just lovingly step away people, and the lovingly step away, people never made me feel guilty or shame around how I was feeling, because it wasn’t about me it was about them looking after themselves.

So hopefully this has given some people some things to consider and think about.

This is very general. 

If you have a specific situation with somebody where you don’t feel this is quite the right solution for how you would work with them or handle them or support them. That’s fine. This is this is just some foundational things and some ideas You can see if it will fit.

But ultimately, I think the main point of this one, you have to look after you first. 

Sacrificing yourself and your own happiness and your own joy isn’t going to help lift somebody up.

It’s only going to pull you down your energy and all of this really does matter. 

Loving energy for somebody who’s struggling with their mental health is a beautiful thing for them to be able to see, feel and witness.

Because underlying depression, there is so much guilt and shame and fear and judgment around how they feeling on that was definitely for me, if you can support them with love, whether it’s stepping aside what’s up.

That’s what they need.

However you choose to respond, staying as support or to step away, do that lovingly, kindly and gently and making sure that that person has other support in other ways.

That’s actually a beautiful outcome for all.

So your happiness coach is signing off.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this.

And if you know anyone who is supporting somebody who is struggling with the identity of being depressed, please feel free to share this with them or tag them or get them to reach out. It’s scary knowing that somebody you love doesn’t want to be here anymore. 

I’ve been on both pillars of the spectrum there.

But I do believe a lot of this can be solved with good loving energy, as well as all the other supports that I spoke about in there as well.

I love you. I pray for your happiness.

Happiness is a choice. You can come back from the brink.

I’ve been on the brink more than once I’ve seen it I’ve looked into the abyss.

I know the pathway out of the dark there is a pathway and whether it’s me or someone else, whoever it is, you are always loved.

  • You are always supported.
  • You are perfect child of God. You are whole.
  • You are whole never forget you are whole.
  • You’ve just had experiences in life.
  • You’re not broken.
  • You’re beautiful.
values sensitive depression support