If we are experiencing depression, it can be hard to know what we need, and to communicate that to the people around us. So when the idea of a 'depression support list' went viral recently, it piqued my interest. I wondered what it would mean for us to have a 'support list' to help our loved ones to know what we need. I spoke to Stylist about the idea of a 'depression support list', a list of things that we provide to our loved ones so that they know how best to support us when we are feeling depressed. Click here to read the article, and read on to learn what I had to say.
The idea of a 'depression support list' (a list of things that we provide to our loved ones so that they know how best to support us when we are feeling depressed) links with a few key concepts that we often talk about in counselling:
Understanding what we need. There are so many different things that we can do, or that others can help us with, when we’re experiencing depression or struggling with our feelings. But when we are ‘in the moment’ or feeling low, it can be really hard to identify these. So by being proactive, we can take steps to identify what we need.
Exploring how we deserve to be treated by other people. If we are struggling with our confidence or self-esteem, it can be hard to ask for help. Maybe we don’t believe that we deserve to be treated way, or it’s ingrained in us to focus on pleasing other people.
Communicating our needs. Figuring out how we can communicate what we need to our loved ones. Without feeling needy or embarrassed. Without feeling angry our frustrated that they haven’t anticipated our every need, or read our minds.
A 'depression support list' could be empowering for your loved ones, helping them to know what to do when they might otherwise feel helpless or frustrated. But if you’re putting together a ‘depression support list’ for your partner, it’s worth considering why you are choosing this method. And perhaps what you might be avoiding in your relationship. Does it feel easier to compile a list because you’re frightened of what might happen if you discussed it face-to-face? Ask yourself whether you are giving them equal air-time to express their own feelings about the list, or are you presenting it as a ‘done deal’. There's a risk that this type of list might allow us to feel as if we are abdicating responsibility to another person for our wellbeing. This could potentially encourage us to feel codependent or helpless. So if you’re considering offering someone a ‘depression support list’, perhaps create one for yourself at the same time. So that you always feel as if you have ways to support yourself, in the event that someone else is unavailable or unwilling to help you.
The idea of a 'depression support list' can be a helpful tool, as it reminds us to proactively think about what we need, and how to communicate it to other people. And it’s useful to think of new and different ways that might suit your relationship and your individual communication styles. But I would hesitate to recommend it as a ‘one size fits all’ approach, as I think it fits as part of a wider discussion about what your needs are, and how your loved ones can meet your needs. And if you're trying to support someone through their depression, I would say that communication is key. And remember that you don't have to take on this role or responsibility alone. Make sure that they are in touch with their GP and other support services that can offer professional help.
Keen to explore more? In counselling we can take a deeper look at how you feel about yourself, how you behave, and your coping strategies. Click here to contact me, or click here to book a 30-minute introductory call.