Helping someone with depression

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Laurens
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Helping someone with depression

Post by Laurens » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:07 pm

My partner is currently quite severely depressed. I am trying my best to support her in whichever ways that I can, however it seems that in her state of mind most of my suggestions, and offers for help are rejected. It is hard for me to constantly be there to support her, yet deal with my own feelings of being pushed away.

Her depression is focused around the fact that a good friend of hers has left town, and she now feels like she doesn't have any friends, and that all of her existing friends live far from her. I feel unqualified and a bit overwhelmed when it comes to dealing with someone who is at times quite severely depressed. I have made the offer to accompany her to see a doctor, but that has been dismissed.

Any advice would be gratefully received.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Aloka
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Aloka » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:37 pm

Hi Laurens,

I'm so sorry that your partner is feeling depressed about her friend moving out of town.

Finding something interesting to do in her spare time might take her mind off her friend and provide an opportunity to meet new people. Are there any local social activities/clubs/classes that she could go to, or that you could go to together?

A beginners Tai Chi class might be worth consideration, because the gentle movements can be very relaxing and uplifting and there's always an opportunity of getting to know others at the class.

With kind wishes,

Aloka :anjali:

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Stiphan
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:46 pm

Dear Laurens,

I can help you.

I am not a Buddhist teacher, nor am I a health professional of any sort. But I know exactly what you need to do.

First of all, you must realize that your partner wants you -- she needs you -- to be exceptionally kind to her. 'Exceptionally' is not even strong enough a word, and I do not believe there is actually a strong enough a word to describe how much kindness she needs from you. Not just kindness -- 100% genuine one at that -- but along with kindness and love, she needs an equal amount of respect from you (not just from you, but from everyone), and also she wants you not to feel so much compassion as she wants you to be positive, not to feel down along with her, to cry along with her, to grieve along with her, etc. She needs you to be strong, to be positive, to be optimistic about her and about her future. She wants you to be enthusiastic about her -- bring the good things that are inside of her out into the open. So forget about the negatives -- ignore them -- for the time being. First you focus on the good qualities that you know that she possesses and is capable of and that she has exhibited and shown to you. Remember them, recall them, focus on them, make her aware that they are still there. You need to be absolutely non-judgmental. Judging her will kill her.

It is also not so much about what you say -- it is all about how you say it. Don't think about what to say: "Will this help her, will it not?". No. She is not interested in the contents -- she is interested in the way you are saying the words. It's also sometimes not even necessary to say anything. Be there for her. Don't treat her as someone who is troubled, has a problem, is inferior and so on. Be strong, be positive, and be her refuge, but treat her as your friend and equal. Speak exceedingly gently to her, with kindness flowing out of your heart that you have never known you were capable of. But now you have to. Do you know how much that will help her? She will be cured! She would be constantly looking for you and wanting to spend time with you because you will be her healer. Don't decline. You may think her negativity is affecting you and you might want to just spend time alone. Now you have to take care of her because she needs you, and when you are there for her, and you are kind and gentle and loving and respectful and non-judgmental of her -- she will feel better, and you will feel better! You will feel as though you are a Bodhisattva -- a compassionate being who doesn't leave his beloved partner to suffer alone. You will feel good about yourself. And she will love you so much more. And with time this whole episode will pass. You have to trust me.

Do not try to cure her. Do not try to make her depression go away. It will be counter-productive and will only make things much worse. Just be kind. Let it be that way. With time it will pass on its own. Do not force her to go to mental health professionals -- most people do not want to go there. It makes them feel weak, inferior, as if they are losers, etc. Don't do that to her. She is a strong person. I can tell because strong people always vigorously decline seeking help from doctors, because they know they are much better than that.

Also, do what she wants to do. If she doesn't want to go out, then that's a rule - no going out. If she doesn't want to see people, same. She is the boss now. Make her aware of that.

Another thing, it would be good to change environments. This is so important. You simply can't cure depression unless there is a significant, if not complete, change in your day-to-day lives. Best would be going somewhere else - a vacation for example - preferably a long one (several weeks, even a couple of months), and even better would be going abroad to a country she has always dreamt of visiting. You may think: "Why?" Trust me, you can't make drastic changes in a severe mood unless there is drastic change in environment -- places, people, etc. You just can't. However, if that is not possible, you might just want to change things at home. If parents come over often, ask them kindly not to. Or if you are both working, take a leave, for some time. This is more important, isn't it? Whatever you do, to have change in mood, you need change in externals, because if a person goes on and on and on with the same daily lifestyle, how can they change their inner world?

Get her things she likes. Buy her gifts she always wanted. Serve her tea or coffee. Care for her, but not as if you are the doctor and she is the patient -- but as if you are her best friend. You need to get inside of her mindset and try to understand it. Not judge it in any way -- judgment is the worst thing you can do to someone who is feeling down. That is like a stab in the heart. Speak reassuringly, tell her that, really, this is just nothing. Really. Don't try to put more pressure on her by saying to her how severe her depression is because it will only make it worse. Do not totally dismiss it, just say that this is something that is easy to handle. That will make her more hopeful and give her more confidence in herself and then she will be able to produce the effort needed to overcome it.

Actually, do not speak about 'overcoming'. She has to make peace with it, not think this is some huge battle and she has to wage war with it. This will make her think that she might lose the battle, and she will just give up before it's even started.

As you go on doing these things -- to the best of your ability -- especially being kind in your speech, you may notice that her depression will be alleviated. That is when you step up. Let her know now, that this cannot continue any longer. No -- not the depression -- but her attitude of procrastination. People who are depressed procrastinate. That is why they linger there. They think this such a difficult thing to overcome, that they naturally tend to put their recovery off for some time in the future. You should not allow this! Tell her that she has to start TODAY. Not tomorrow, not the day after, not next week, let alone next month. It has to be today.

In fact, it has to be in the present moment -- not even later today -- that is far, far too late. You may choose a setting for the special moment -- a park, the countryside, somewhere where you are secluded (or she might want to be alone). Now is the moment of truth. Make it seem like a BIG deal. This is important. This is the moment where she will have to make the first official step -- not out of depression -- but towards happiness and peace.

(Don't ever use terms like 'depression', 'feeling low', 'down' etc. - that only makes her feel worse; instead use positive language like pursuing 'joy', 'happiness', 'peace', let her know these are within her, focus on these positive feelings so that she can awaken to them.)

Now she must make the first step. And she HAS to do it. I don't know if she is a Buddhist, but I assume you are. What is the first thing we need on the Noble Eightfold Path? Wisdom, constituted by right view. Right view is knowledge, acceptance, understanding of reality -- things as they are right now. In other words, honesty. She needs to be totally honest now, and it is the time to accept that she has depression. She needs to be aware of that fact now. Actually, she has always been, just somehow tried to 'pretend' that it's not real, that it will pass, that it's not really a problem, etc. It IS a problem, and she has to be honest about it, otherwise she will never be out of it. What is worse than the depression, though, is her attitude, particularly of procrastination. Now that we have honesty with ourselves, about our situation, about the dire need to get out of it, and how serious it actually is -- and that if we put our first step towards recovery off for even later today, then we will never recover, it is now time for the next step.

We have right view, honesty, desire to change, we have made the decision to start that change today, now. Now we start investigating. What is the cause of depression? It is so simple: negative thinking. There is another one as well, which is craving to not have to experience this pain, and craving for it to stop right here, right now. And then there is the desire for people to just treat her better. She doesn't feel like people are treating her well enough as they used to when she was well. She is constantly craving for the good times of the past, and constantly craving for change -- but not some time in the future (which is why "This too shall pass." does not work, unfortunatly. Because when you say that, she would say: "Yes, but when? I want it to stop now, and it doesn't seem as if it ever will.").

So, the causes are clear. She has a negative mindset. Negative thoughts. Most of those thoughts are likely about herself. How does she deal with that? Negative thoughts are overcome through positive thoughts. If the negative thoughts are about herself, then make her think positively about herself. It is likely that she will find this exceedingly hard. She used to thinking all sorts of bad things and it will take some training. She has been well in the past -- of that I am sure. Let her know that it would be awesome for her to spend time in meditation (or just sitting somewhere) and recalling all the positive memories of her past -- the happier the better. The joy, the bliss, the peace, the freedom, the happiness, successess, rewards, accomplishments, achievements, the good things she has done for others, the wonderful, marvellous helpful, altruistic actions she has performed, and also all the good relationships she has had, and especially the really nice and kind ways that people treated her. Anything positive in the past (it's really hard to think of the present as positive at this stage) -- recollect it, think about it, make much of it!

That will reignite her self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence and she would now feel confident and ready to make that first step. We are now secluded in the park. She doesn't have to do too much (if it's too much, then it won't work). All we need is 2 or three steps. That's all. One is too little, 5 is too much. But first -- we have to know that this is really important and that we have to overcome the problem. It is now a battle.

First, let her know -- and you must be absolutely 100% sure that it is true -- that she is a wise, capable, worthy person, with a huge number of good, wholesome positive qualities and abilities. This is very important. You are like a sports coach now. You have to give her the self-confidence needed, and sometimes she will trust you more than herself on that matter. Now that she knows she is worthy and capable, let her be aware of the DANGER if she were to continue to allow herself to suffer. THERE IS DANGER AHEAD!!! Please see this thread http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 00#p404894 for a full explanation and I won't copy it here as well.

Now she ready for the U-turn before the cliff (referred to in the thread just linked). Be calm but also be determined. This is a matter of life and death, and we need strong action right now. It is simple but we need assertiveness. All we need is to determine that we need to change direction and make that U-turn. I forgot to say that in addition to alerting her of the danger, you also let her know of all the wonderful things that will happen once she actually steps onto the right path. The happiness, the joy, the self-satisfaction, the pleasure, the fact that people will respect her as much as they did in the past, all the good things that are bound to happen.

The first step is always in the mind. It is like a switch. It's not words, it's not actions. And only she can do it. You are out of the picture now. The switch I am talking about is the moment that the last negative thought is replaced with the first positive thought. It is genuine. It happens in a nanosecond. It happens because deep down she wants to be well and happy and she doesn't want to suffer. It is a moment of change of mental state born out of the ingrained instinct for self-protection and self-preservation that is in every being, not just human and animal. She has concern for herself and for her well-being, which is why she will want to change.

The first step is scary. It really is. It is a step into the unknown. It may be a good one, but a depressed person is used to being negative, so it is not very easy. However, it is not that difficult either. It just takes some amount of courage and a tiny bit of effort and desire.

What is that first step? Kindness. Towards herself. We have right view, kindness is part of right intention. Or it could be a moment of letting go (nekkhamma). The moment she feels a single, genuine thought of kindness for herself (she could say out loud if need be), is the moment that she is onto the right path towards happiness and peace. What follows is for her to keep thinking positive thoughts (like kindness, compassion), have thoughts of self-worth and self-esteem (she is now able to do that, because she JUST WON THE BATTTLE! - CONGRATULATIONS!), and then she can take it on from there into virtue, practice generosity, learn to speak kindly and gently, or do any other good things that she has a liking for. Then you can teach her a bit of meditation, awareness and mindfulness (depressed people think too much, they have low level awareness, which is why their world is so dark), teach her how to be more energetic, and teach her about the four noble truths and kamma (don't mention Buddhism if she has some aversion, just speak about reality and how things are), etc....

And then you can take it on from there and she is now definitely on the path to recovery. All you need to do now is carry on and never stop.


I wish you best of luck!

She is going to make it -- trust me.

:heart: :heart: :heart:


(P.S.: No one ever taught me the above - I taught it to myself by myself but it works. I've overcome three long, severe ones. I know how it is done. It may seem difficult, but it is not that difficult. All you need is that first moment of switch from negative to positive and take it from there. But before that, you need the preparations I outline in the beginning. Psychology and psychiatry... sorry never worked. May do for others, I don't know. What does work is Buddhism. I don't know of anything that works better than Buddhism when it comes to dukkha. But you also need the two qualities of utter honesty and determined effort (which should then be followed by all the other good qualities, actions, and practices. It can be done. It really is simple. Just a bit daunting at first, but once you're 'over the fence' and you've made the first step, nothing can stop you from going up and up and up, and then everything just works itself out and you become happier and happier and happier the more you realize what terrible suffering you've overcome, the happier you get.

That is the cure for depression.

Your partner will make it -- BUT only if she does something similar to the above, particularly the decision to do it NOW and the effort to change, having already had the utter honesty about it all. Change of environment is very important, while your genuine love and kindness and respect and non-judgmentalism are crucial. And - whatever happens - never leave her. She would be devastates, particularly as she has already lost her friend. Let her know that you are now her best friend and guardian angel. She needs you.

If you need further advice, feel free to message me.)

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Stiphan
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:11 am

Dear Laurens,

I forgot to say:

You have to strike a fine balance sometimes. Number one: be concerned but not too concerned. Be gentle but also firm. You will have to take care of yourself too, but you must realize that, for the time being, she is your priority. Don't talk to her problem, talk to her. When you criticize her (there is sometimes a healthy type of criticism aimed at helping the person out of their wrong ways - not to bring them down), criticize the actions - not her. Try not to focus on negatives, focus on positives so that they grow. Don't remind her too much of what she is doing wrong - you must praise her more than you find faults, and when you do find faults just reassure her that she is able to overcome them and that it is necessary for her to do so. Don't just praise her and leave the wrong attitudes and habits alone - you must show her what she is doing wrong so that she can fix those things. At the same time, praise her for what she is doing right so that you encourage her.

There's so much more you can do. If you really love her, you will do it.

Remember: people who are depressed want just two things: they want to be happy right here, right now; and they want everyone to respect, love, appreciate and BE ENTHUSIASTIC about them. That is what they crave. If you can satisfy the latter, that would solve half her problems and help solve the former. Be enthusiastic about her! What does that mean? Treat her as though she is such a wonderful, positive, happy, amazing, tremendous, marvellous, exceptional, successful, courageous, FORTUNATE person! That is what she wants most of all. I know you're having doubts about that given that you probably think that these things are not true.. But do you want to help her? Do you want to encourage those good things that are already within her but are just lying dormant and asleep, or do you want to reinforce the negativity, worthlessness, and self-criticism she is feeling every second of every day for as long she has been depressed? Think about it. She's had enough of people putting her down, giving her serious looks, etc. Do you want to do the same? She's hurting. Put yourself in her shoes. Imagine being her. What would you want your partner to do and behave?

Consider it a test of who you are as a person and how compassionate you are and a test of how much you love this lovely girl and the greatest test of your relationship. Once she recovers you might have such an amazing future together and she will want to repay you any way she can. No good deed goes unpunished, and you will be rewarded.

Wishing both of you well and keeping you both in my heart. I am absolutely confident that you will both do it. All you need to do is do it.

Love,
Stephen
:heart:

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Stiphan
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:28 am

Laurens,

The human spirit is stronger than anything. Nothing is stronger than the human spirit -- no mental or physical ailment, no problem -- no matter how big, no suffering, no pain -- NOTHING. A person with a strong spirit can endure the worst physical torture.

Sometimes, one has to go to the very bottom of human existence to know that. Once one gets out of that bottom, NOTHING can scare that person anymore. How could it? She or he has overcome the worst, so what is there that they cannot overcome? Everything becomes so easy, so simple, so natural, a piece of cake. One stops worrying what other people think, which is such a huge relief and freedom. And that person sees "confident" people struggling with the smallest problems. People who would abuse them when they were down, are struggling themselves now with problems far lesser than their former victims'. If they wanted, they could easily give revenge. But they are wise, so they will just simply not respect those bullies, just to let them know of their mistake.

Your wife/girlfriend is strong, believe me. I know that. She is learning right now. She is learning truths she has to learn so as to make her wiser. People talk about blessings in disguise. Your partner is now experiencing the greatest blessing of her life! Albeit in the disguise of mental pain. Once she recovers -- and she will -- she will be so much the better person for it. Don't take that lesson away from her, but do do your best to help her recover because pain sucks indeed. And of the two pains - the mental is much more painful than the physical.

A wise person is one who knows and sees suffering. Most people gain wisdom by experiencing it, going through it, fewer those who gain it simply by observing, I would suppose. Sometimes the greater the suffering you've been through, the greater the wisdom you gain. I wouldn't advise this avenue, though, as it is quite painful.

I hope her dukkha is relatively mild. Just take care of each other now, hold hands and talk kindly. Empathy is a great medicine.

Love you both, friends! I am with you. :heart:
Last edited by Stiphan on Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:13 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:53 am

One more thing to add: doing good deeds will make her feel really good about herself. Helping others, volunteering, generosity, etc. I myself would give a lot to the homeless, and I got immense joy just by holding doors for girls, or when there was unisex toilet and it was my turn, I would just let the girl after me go in before me, or keeping the parcel for the neghibour and then giving it with kindness. You should have seen the look on their faces! Priceless. And then you start feeling good about yourself, that you are a worthy person. And the pain just eases a bit. Do these constantly and soon there's nothing to make you depressed anymore. So please tell your partner to do good things on a regular basis.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:52 am

Laurens,

You may like to enquire from her about what exactly is happening, but be cautious: people usually do not want to talk about their problems and they want to deal with them themselves. This is due to fear of being perceived as weak. Do not ask her unless she wants to talk about it, and even then, do not focus on the pain, focus on the good things that she can do to be happy again.

Also, even if she asks for help, doesn't mean she necessarily want or needs advice - rather she needs kindness, respect, someone to be with who is supportive and non-judgmental. Just be with her and be genuinely kind. That is the best thing you could ever do for her.

And you must be confident. Don't have the slightest doubt that she will recover, or else she will start doubting herself. I know there's so many things you must do, and it is not easy - for her or for you. It's a challenge. Overcome it, and you will both be stronger and better than before - as a couple and as individuals. Accept the challenge and look forward to it because it is a great thing. If you consider it a curse, you will develop aversion, you will start hating the situation, become despondent and lose all hope, and all sorts of other unskillful reactions and attitudes.

No. This is good. It is a wonderful opportunity! To learn, to grow, to be a stronger, wiser, better couple and individuals. And next time such a thing happens you will have the personal knowledge and wisdom with regard to what must be done. And also you will be able to help other people in similar situations like I am doing now.

But you must know what is going on. She has lost her friend(s). She didn't cope well with that loss, and she went on a downward spiral from being happy to being down. Now she is desperately trying to change and go up again. This is her constant preoccupation.

Yes, she has to change and go up again. That's what depressed people are trying to do: turn thing around as fast as they can. Unfortunately, this only makes things much worse, and they go further down, and then it becomes even more difficult.

So the first thing to do is accept it, let it be the way it is, without trying to change it, make peace with it. This is not easy because the mind assumes things will actually get worse. On the contrary, when you accept the situation, the mind relaxes. Tension lessens. One becomes calmer. This is because of the letting go of craving that had just occurred.

Then, when things have settled and calmed down, now is the time for action. She now has the clarity and calm to put forth effort to change. But it has to be skillful. It means effort born of wisdom, and genuine concern for her own well being.

It's like a person being drifted by a powerful current at sea. If she tries to fight against the current - it would be futile and in fact counter-productive, because the current is stronger than her and she would be taken further into the sea and what is more she would be extremely fatigued and unable to swim back all the way to the shore later.

She must allow the current to take her. Eventually, the current will stop (it's impermanent). This is because she had accepted and let go. When the current stops, that is when she must make effort to swim back to the shore, and what is more - she now has the energy because she didn't keep fighting against the powerful current.



And please let her know that what other people think of her during this time doesn't matter one bit. People are ignorant in general. And they are full of hatred, anger, conceit, and just don't care about other people's feelings. They put other people down so as to appear superior. That just makes them inferior actually, because strong people lift other people up - not make them feel worthless by bullying then. These people are best avoided and their thoughts, words, and actions completely disregarded.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:53 am

Having said all that, what, now, is the most important thing of all?

A positive mind. "Mind is chief", said the Buddha. For her to be happy again, she needs to have a wholesome, positive mindset: positive thinking and positive attitude.

There are two major areas here: thoughts about herself and thoughts about the world. She must transform both from having negative perceptions to positive ones -- it takes time, is a gradual progress, is not easy, and will be setbacks, but the important thing is to keep trying and pushing forward.

With regards to thoughts about herself: she must see the good in herself. She may not see it right now, and that is normal. It doesn't mean that these things are not there, she is, at the moment, simply blind to them, or refuses to believe in them because she is not feeling well, or if she knows she has them, she just has memories of being a good person.

To change that, here is what she must do. It is good to be honest with herself and admit that she is not her best self. But, she also needs to generate positive perceptions of herself despite that. Sometimes you just need to train the mind and trick into believing things, even though they seem untrue. You're not lying to the mind, because these things are there, inside, they are just covered, and you need to uncover them and bring them to the surface. Look around the web for 'affirmations'.

With regards to the world, she must try to see the good in the world. Stop watching or reading the news - it's just a load of crap that makes one even more depressed (especially these days). Read inspiring stories, stories of people having overcome excruciating stuff and become better for it. It brings tears to one's eyes and makes one realize what the human being is capable of.

For example, remember Angulimala? There are other stories of people in the suttas, 'bad' people, 'stupid' people, 'crazy' people, 'ugly' people -- and they all attained Arahantship (well, not all such people, just the ones that the Buddha said they did)! Not even Albert Einstein, Socrates, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have attained enlightenment and those people did!

Look at the world as a more beautiful place than it may seem. You will be surprised that when you look for beauty and joy, you find beauty and joy, and your mind brightens, your body calms down and becomes lighter. But also with the positive perception of one's self.

Finally, just look around any Buddhist website, and pick wholesome qualities to cultivate, and let her (and it's good for you to do these things too!) practice them. They are not necessarily Buddhist - they are just good things any human being can do. OK, I will give you an example of such qualities, but bear in mind this was intended solely for personal use. She and you might want to focus on different qualities, and I encourage you to do so because it has to be your thing.

Pursuing a goal - Nibbāna
Heedfulness | care | diligence | earnestness | carefulness | vigilance | thoughtfulness | conscientiousness | watchfulness | zeal
Strong self-discipline
Learning | studying | reading | listening | discussion | asking questions
Devotional ceremonies | chanting | puja | worship
Faith | belief | trust | hope | self-confidence | self-esteem
Friendship with the beautiful, wise, superior, empathetic and good people | avoiding foolish, negative, bad people
Virtue | goodness | moral discipline | immaculateness | integrity | moral shame and moral dread | doing what is right - not doing what is wrong | rejecting, avoiding and eliminating everything and anything that is bad, negative, harmful, or evil | trust and trustworthiness
Letting go | making peace | acceptance | renunciation | generosity | humility
Love | kindness | compassion| caring | friendliness | respect | gratefulness
Effort | energy | hard work | practice | determination | perseverance | persistence | zeal | enthusiasm | desire | mental strength | courage | assertiveness | proactivity
Meditation | mindfulness | samādhi | concentration | stillness | equanimity | clarity of mind | mental development
Wisdom | truth | understanding | discernment | insight | contemplation | honesty | genuineness | make a distinction between right and wrong
Peace | happiness | bliss | joy | freedom | independence
Helping others live more virtuously | making other people happy and alleviating their suffering

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:26 am

Okay, one more thing, and I do hope that I have not overwhelmed you!

Four Noble Truths.

I had a graphic/visual insight into, explanation of this doctrine, with some profound implications, but I haven't gotten around to creating the diagramme in Photoshop yet. I will do later this month, because I am now having a personal retreat.

Briefly put, to be happy, she must do what is right and what is good; to overcome suffering she must abandon the negative thinking patterns and other negative attitudes or actions. Learn to focus only on what is good and absolutely avoid even a single negative thought with your utmost of effort. It takes time to learn to do that. At first, she will likely make a few attempts at positive thinking, then return to the habitual negative thinking. Never mind, just do it over and over again, trusting that with time she will be spending more and more time in the wholesome, positive 'field' of the mind. When she does so, she will see how her happiness increases and her suffering decreases. She will get the idea that doing good things and pursuing only what is right does indeed bring benefit, welfare and happiness, and she will have a better idea of how these things work. She -- even if she is not a Buddhist -- will have her first insights into kamma and the four noble truths.

A person who is depressed is lost in a negative feedback cycle or loop. They got there because they allowed themselves to think or do something bad, however small. Because of that, they then had a little bit more suffering than usual, responded to that problem with aversion (another negative cause), which caused them more suffering, then they couldn't handle it well, and suffered even more...... This is the vicious circle or negative feedback loop. In short, it sucks. And the person doesn't know how to get out of it.

You get out of it by doing something which is good. Forget about the bad stuff for a moment. Focus on the good things. There must be something which is good even in the present moment (if there's nothing good at present, recall the good of the past). What is it? Can we focus on it? If you focus on it - it tends to grow. Keep focusing on it, and it grows bigger. And bigger, and bigger. Add another positive thing (quality, action, or even effect such as some amount of joy or happiness), and just let these things grow in number and in strength, multiplying them to infinity. What happens? The person leaves the vicious cycle and gradually goes over to the virtuous cycle. And it feels bloody damn good! It really does! It's beyond anything that one could ever have imagined! The joy, the bliss, the freedom, the peace. Wow! And then everybody starts respecting you and being kind to you and they want to be your friend. Your whole life gets fixed.

Just keep doing this over and over and everything just gets better and better and the whole problem has been resolved. You are now a stronger person, much wiser, and much more able to deal with any problem that arises -- much more so than the so-called 'normal' people who have never had it rough.

And then you will realize that all this was indeed a blessing in disguise.

Of course, every person is different, but the basic things are the same. We all want to be happy and do not want to suffer. To be happy and to overcome suffering we must do something quite simple: do good and avoid evil. In cases such as this, this means: cultivating a wholesome, positive mindset, and reducing the negative thinking. Actually, be firm and don't allow yourself even a single negative thought -- it is evil (take a look at the thread I linked to earlier, and you will see that I compare positive thoughts with jewels and negative thoughts with used toilet paper).

Do let me know how it goes. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it is also not difficult. If you think it is difficult, you are putting a barrier in front of yourself. In actual fact, I am telling you from experience -- it is not very difficult -- only the first step is a bit daunting, but once one has made it the rest becomes easier and easier.


Love you both,
Stephen
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Cittasanto
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:03 am

Laurens wrote:My partner is currently quite severely depressed. I am trying my best to support her in whichever ways that I can, however it seems that in her state of mind most of my suggestions, and offers for help are rejected. It is hard for me to constantly be there to support her, yet deal with my own feelings of being pushed away.

Her depression is focused around the fact that a good friend of hers has left town, and she now feels like she doesn't have any friends, and that all of her existing friends live far from her. I feel unqualified and a bit overwhelmed when it comes to dealing with someone who is at times quite severely depressed. I have made the offer to accompany her to see a doctor, but that has been dismissed.

Any advice would be gratefully received.
Hi Laurens
I am providing you with this advice because it is you, and not the depressed person themselves, asking. If someone with depression came my advice would be different.
The best thing you could do is simply be there for her and support her on her terms. unless warning signs start appearing try not to suggest things or offer help as this will be seen as you telling her how to grieve. They need to come to terms with things.

That is not to say inviting her to go with you on a short walk, meditate... is not advisable, but go on the walk, meditate, regardless of her participation, as she may be more inclined to go next time if it isn't framed as an attempt to fix her. Remember this is her problem to overcome, and although it affects you, this isn't something you can fix from the outside.

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Stiphan
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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:38 am

Cittasanto wrote: Hi Laurens
I am providing you with this advice because it is you, and not the depressed person themselves, asking. If someone with depression came my advice would be different.
The best thing you could do is simply be there for her and support her on her terms. unless warning signs start appearing try not to suggest things or offer help as this will be seen as you telling her how to grieve. They need to come to terms with things.

That is not to say inviting her to go with you on a short walk, meditate... is not advisable, but go on the walk, meditate, regardless of her participation, as she may be more inclined to go next time if it isn't framed as an attempt to fix her. Remember this is her problem to overcome, and although it affects you, this isn't something you can fix from the outside.

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
I definitely agree this is not something you can fix from the outside -- she has to do it herself and no one can do it for her. But you can, indeed, help, and I do not believe that you shouldn't try to help. Don't wait until the warning signs, as it seems as if they have already appeared. However, don't try and fix her -- definitely not! Just as I said -- just be kind, respectful, empathetic, and non-judgmental. Let her know she can lean on you for support whenever she needs you.

And also, give her space when she needs it, and try not to think of her as a 'depressive', as this would only reinforce her own self-image as a 'depressive' and it will be harder to get out of that, as it is very hard to eliminate 'labels'. Once you have a label, you become whatever is written on it, and is very difficult to grow out of it. Treat her as a perfectly normal human being. And refer to the passage about being enthusiastic about her. That is the best medicine a person can give to someone who feels down! Because that's what they crave most from other people, and virtually no one gives it to them. Because usually people think one should be enthusiastic about only the fortunate people, and have compassion for the 'sufferers.' That is wrong. When you are happy to see her, look for the wonderful and amazing qualities that she has and just imagine her as a happy person -- she will do her best to live up to that image and she will become happy! Don't use low voice, or end all sentences with full stops. Rather, be upbeat, enthusiastic, joyful -- but concerned, otherwise it would seem as if you are not concerned -- and when you send her a text, use lots of !!!! Not all the time, but if you are down yourself, how are you going to lift her up? She needs someone to lift her up, someone who is positive and positive about her, and someone who cares. There again needs to be a balance. Concern/compassion + confidence/optimism. If one is stronger than the other, it won't work. Depression is a tricky thing, you need so many positive qualities and inner capabilities if you want to overcome it, and it is the same if you want to help someone out of it. But put joy in it as well, use humour, gentle humour, to lighten the mood, if everyone is so serious, there will be no cure, because there would be no way out of the negative cycle loop. Your goal is to go into the positive cycle, virtuous circle loop. So use positivity. You've got to put happiness into it, not more suffering!

Also know that she cares about you. She may not be able to show it (or she may), but she knows she has to keep her focus on herself. Don't be put off if you think she is ignoring you -- she may need personal space and she definitely needs to work on herself. This doesn't mean she doesn't love you. What is more, she doesn't want to make you feel down, and she may be concerned that she is bringing you down or affecting you negatively and she may be feeling guilty about it. Let her know this isn't the case. Give her the freedom she needs, be understanding. A person with a negative mindset may sometimes say things they don't mean to say. If that happens, don't take it personally, it is just her state of mind and she doesn't mean to do you any harm at all. This is just a hypothesis, because I don't know either of you personally, and I sincerely hope that you have great mutual understanding, trust and empathy.

Of course, also take care of yourself at this time. You are important, too, and you need to look after your well-being. In a relationship, it's not about her, and it's not about yourself -- it's about the two of you together, as a team. So maintain that, and don't just care, care, care for her and then forget yourself completely. Otherwise you're going to burn out from all this helping. Be together as one. Caring for one another. Let her know you also need attention from her, just as you are so compassionately giving it to her.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:37 am

Last piece of advice, for now, as I think I have given plenty.

With regards to social contacts, many people who feel low mood may purposefully try to reduce social contacts. This could be both a good and a bad thing, it depends on the character of the person. For an introvert, it is probably better that they have more time for themselves as relationships tend to be taxing and exhausting. For an extrovert, it's probably the opposite.

Sometimes people need to recharge their batteries, and thus would choose to avoid all social contacts for a certain period of time. I would say that is a good thing. This is because they need to fix their relationship with themselves first, before they go out into the world. Many people say to never retreat yourself as you need social contact. Sometimes people need peace of mind and not having to deal with awkward interactions which only perpetuate their anxieties and low self-esteem. Sometimes you just need a break.

But when one is ready, one can return to full social life and enjoy a greater improvement in one's relationships, which would have made retreating, seclusion, and solitude worth it.

And lastly, it is important who one is interacting with: are the people virtuous or not, are they decent people or not, happy or not so happy. Choose people accordingly as they have a strong effect on one's well-being.

Bottom line is, let her make her own decisions about her life, but both of you need to make mutual decisions about your relationship as a cooperative partnership -- not one person having a say over the other. In a relationship, the most dangerous thing is a hierarchy.

Sometimes you need to think of yourself, first. This is if you see that the other person is being continually uncooperative. In that case, your well-being should take priority. You can give a second chance, and a third chance, but not a fourth. I hope your partner is a nice person, that you keep together and find a solution.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Stiphan » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:05 pm

Came across this on Facebook today. It made me smile. :heart:
14991239_1168420973211303_2336490649722498041_o.jpg
14991239_1168420973211303_2336490649722498041_o.jpg (202.61 KiB) Viewed 1381 times

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by rubber » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:28 pm

When I was depressed I didn't want to listen to anyone, it's hard to explain but everything was kind of like "white" noise. You're just stuck in a constantly state that only your opinions matters because it's the loudest. The mind of a depressed person is their greatest enemy. I'm sorry that you feel neglect and being pushed away. I am sure that's not what she intends to do. Sometimes they need some space to do their own thinking, but do not give up on trying to help her. You never know when your partner is ready to accept help.

Depression is a hard thing for the person and the people closets to them.

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Re: Helping someone with depression

Post by Kamran » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:09 am

As you may know, depression means low self-esteem.

A Depressed person will be defensive or aggressive because they think being depressed means they are a loser, or worthless person...so they don't want to be reminded that they are mentally ill.

I would keep the interactions brief and positive without any indication that you think they are depressed or have a problem.

Don't try to help overtly. They will detect this as proof they are some type of mentally ill loser.

Just focus on having short positive interactions.

I am constantly reminding myself: "keep it brief and positive", each time I have to interact with a depressed person.

Also, any activity that can increase the depressed person's self-esteem or gives them a sense of accomplishment should be encouraged.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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