I was going to post a different encouragement blog for the new year…but due to some more recent events among my little circle of friends I think this is a better topic to start off with.
More people than we probably think about have dealt with someone their close to having suicidal thoughts, or being depressed, or self injuring. There’s a lot of places that people can go that will talk about what to do if you ARE one of those people, or places you should direct that person if you know about it. But what about those of us that are constantly on the sidelines? What about those of us that have to figure out how to cope with the people we know and love telling us about having had these thoughts or done these things? How do we cope when all we want to do is help, but the person we want to help is too ashamed, or too afraid to open up to us?
Goodness these questions have plagued my mind on and off for a large chunk of the past years. I’ve dealt with three members of my immediate family suffering from clinical depression, and I’ve dealt with my best friend of fourteen years suffering from the same, having suicidal thoughts, and self injuring. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s not even easy to talk about, but over the years I’ve at least begun to understand better, and to try and get a handle on exactly what I can provide that the people I love might want or need from me as they go through this mess
But I can tell you guys, from at least my own experiences…it might not seem like much, but being there, reminding them that you love them, is one of the best things you can ever do. I can’t say that any of my little tips or things to keep in mind will be effective, because everyone is different, but at least in my case they’ve been helpful, and it just helps sometimes to even know that there’s someone out there dealing with things like you. And I think sometimes, those of us that have to just sit on the sidelines and worry, get pushed aside without people even really realizing it. It’s true we’re less in danger physically…but this kind of thing takes an emotional toll. After all we all worry for our loved ones. That’s why I want to remind you guys that I’m here, I don’t mind talking, if you’re someone who is on the sidelines and doesn’t know what to do, or if you’re someone who doesn’t know how to talk to your friends about the things going on in your life…we’ll all work through it together 🙂
But anyway, a few things that hopefully, maybe can help those of you on the sidelines:
1.) The big one that I’ve already said a couple times: Just let them know that you’re there, tell them how much you love them and that you would never be ashamed of them, or think any less of them. Sometimes that’s the biggest thing you can do, because a lot of times aren’t we all afraid of what people think of our deeper, darker secrets?
2.) Understand that getting the person you’re reaching out to, to open up will take time. It will sometimes be slow progress, but it will be there all the same. I spent a couple years feeling very frustrated at only the bits and pieces of information I was getting, and felt like I wasn’t being trusted. But I understand better now. My friend was scared and ashamed, and it was simply just HARD to put into words some of these things. We have a much more open dialogue now about it all, but it took time. You’ll be let in, but don’t push to hard too fast.
3.) If someone does admit to you they’re having suicidal thoughts encourage them to seek help. Do so as gently as you can, because forcefulness might cause them to retreat in on themselves (see the next number). Direct them to to hotlines, or even encourage them to go to the hospital. Their life is much more important than hospital bills!
4.) One of the hardest ones. Try to keep calm if you hear someone is having or has had some suicidal thoughts. Freaking out is probably going to cause them to freak out as well, so do your best to keep as calm as you can and refer to #1.
5.) Know that suicidal thoughts, and self injuring are not always one in the same. Just because someone self injures does not always mean they want to end their life. A lot of times people do it for a release, like in times of stress (understand I’m just very quickly covering some of this stuff and throwing out one example, SI is a very deep topic and I know that, and I’m kind of covering a lot of topics at once so don’t be mad if I seem I’m glossing things over) So…refer back to 3, and don’t freak out if someone admits to you that they’ve self injured, don’t accuse them of wanting to end their life right off the bat.
6.) When you talk, just give little encouragements. Even if someone comes to you admitting maybe they’ve made some kind of mistake, do your best to turn it around and point out something positive from the experience. Don’t be dissapointed, but understanding, and encouraging.
It basically all boils down to trying to be calm, not being too pushy, and understanding that it’s going to take a while for people to open up. Be loving and encouraging, and let your friends or family or whoever it is know that you care very deeply for them
Remember guys, don’t give up hope.
Lots of love and faith,