Living too far away from friends to pop round for a cup of tea can be hard. It can be even harder when our friend is living with depression. At times you might feel really helpless because all you want to do is to wrap them up in a big hug, but you can’t. There still some are things that you can do to help a friend with depression, despite living far away.
KEEP IN TOUCH
One of the good things about modern technology is that it can make it much easier to stay in touch. Keeping in touch, whether it be by phone call, text, or social media, can help us to remember that you care. It can help to remind us that you’re there if we need you. If you’re abroad, then using apps such as WhatsApp or a social media messenger are usually free. If we fancy a chat in person rather than through messages, then planning time for a phone call or to Skype can work well.
SEND US LINKS
If you see or read things that make you think of us, or you think might help us, then send them to us. Whether it be a blog about something that you think is relevant to us, some positive words, or something that you think will make us laugh, sending them to us can not only give us something helpful to read but also reminds us that you’re thinking about us.
WATCH THINGS TOGETHER
Even though we’re not together, we can still watch things together. We can text each other during our favourite TV programme. We could press ‘play’ on a film at the same time, and chat on the phone or Skype while we watch it. Doing things at the same time can help to bridge the physical distance between us.
Snail mail can brighten the most difficult of days. Especially if contains a funny postcard or some stickers.
Receiving something in the post can be a lovely surprise amongst all of the bills and takeaway menus that often pop through our door. It also shows that you’ve gone to the time of writing something out for us, finding our address, and posting it, which can be touching. Additionally, we can stick it on our wall or pop it in our diary as a reminder that you care whenever we see it.
As well as a letter or card, you could also include things like quotes which give you a lift on bad days, a list of songs you find helpful, or a bag of one of our favourite types of tea.
Having something to look forward to can be really helpful when we’re struggling with depression because it gives us something to aim for – a reason to keep going. Making plans to meet up can give us a focus.
It’s often helpful to make these plans quite loose and flexible. When we have depression, it can be difficult to get dressed and out of the house, and having concrete plans that will take quite a bit of energy can be stressful and overwhelming. Understanding that we might need to change the plan at the last minute, or meet up for a pyjama day rather than to going out for the day, can help the proposed plan to be something we can look forward to, rather than something to worry about.
TALK TO THOSE WHO LIVE CLOSE BY (WITH PERMISSION)
With permission, it can be helpful to speak to our friends and family who live nearby. You might know us better than some of these people, so sometimes we might ask you to chat with them about the sorts of things that help us. It can also be helpful to have a discussion about whether we want you to pass on your concerns to those close to us at times when you’re particularly worried.
REMIND US YOU LOVE US
Depression often likes to tell us that we are alone. It tells us that we shouldn’t bother people, that we’re a nuisance, and that people only talk to us because they have to. Reminding us that you love us, and letting us know when you see things that make you think of us can help us to fight back against depression when it tells us that we’re alone.
FIND OUT WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE
Different areas have different organisations and NHS services can vary from area to area. When we’re really struggling, it can be difficult to research the services that are available to us. Our brains can feel like cotton wool and it can be hard to take in the information. Doing some research on the NHS services and charities available to us, and how we can access them, can be a huge help.
HAVE AN AGREEMENT
When we have depression, there are times when we might feel particularly low, or unsafe. At these times you might be particularly worried about us. It can be helpful to have an agreement, or crisis plan, for what we want you to do in these situations before they happen. This might include contacting our friends and family who live nearby, contacting the mental health team close to us, or doing a police welfare check.
REMEMBER YOUR OWN SELF-CARE
None of us can pour from an empty cup. It’s important to look after yourself before you try to help us. Remember your own self-care. Remember that your needs are important, too.
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.