Depression Advocate Awareness
Those who are planning to read this post, please be aware that it will discuss topics that could be uncomfortable or very upsetting for some. The focus of this post is to help those who are currently in or might become the position of being an Advocate for someone else with depression and understanding what role they can play to help.
Motivation for this post:
Though it has been nearly four months without this, yesterday I noticed that I started to cascade into a cycle of Bipolar Depression. While these depressive cycles are common with my symptoms, it becomes alarming to me when one comes on so fast and is progressing towards a hard bottom with equal speed. Having myself go through this experience, right now, I felt it would important on my part to share with an audience how empathy can help individuals such as myself or others with various forms of depression.
In moments of depression, whether they be chronic or life-dependent events, people tend to struggle with finding their footing or a place of community. Many feel lost, confused, and even completely detached from any loving connection though they are present. Even harder, many fear that speaking about their depression will lead to an overreaction on the part of those they are reaching out to for assistance; leading to a fear that their depression will be received with little real importance or the need for immediate institutionalization.
While I understand this hesitancy, please hear me: you need to reach out to others. Many people out in this world are there to help and do care about your well-being. Most importantly, they want you to be an active part of their lives as much as you want to be in theirs.
For those who are the Advocates of a friend, family member, co-worker, or a loosely associated person who is suffering from depression and are worried you might make a mistake, please know: the only mistake to be made is inaction.
Further, it is important to add that the inaction does not regularly originate from a lack of empathy. Rather, most people’s inaction comes from a fear of making things worse for the sufferer. Please, do not feel you are going to add more misery for this individual. Again, the lack of engagement will likely cause the outcome to worsen for this sufferer since those suffering from depression likely feel alone already.
Keep in mind, Advocates, you are not expected to be a professional; you are an advocate. Actions as simple as providing the sufferer directions or providing that ride bridging them to a proper professional is a positive engagement that goes far enough.
Professionals for those suffering from depression are best positioned to provide direct emotional support. These support type professionals can come as licensed therapists, psychologists, or religious leaders.
Advocates, before you engage in this professional bridging, please take the time to ask for the sufferer’s values in which type of support would best engage with them.
But again, please keep in mind: you are not the professional; do not apply yourself with such weight. This can be damaging for both you and the sufferer.
Most Important for Advocates to Know:
Advocates, if the sufferer you are advocating for shares any details where they are seeking to end their life right now, are in the position to create self-harm, or are actively creating self-harm — stop and call an emergency number.
In positions where harm is likely or actively engaged, your position as Advocate has now moved from communication with this sufferer to action supporting. While I know this can feel very distressing, please know that self-harm should be taken seriously, and that there is no “talk” of self-harm.
As with a heart attack, we do not consider if an ambulance is needed; the call is just made.
Keep in Mind:
It should be repeated, for those who fear their actions could create more harm than good, please remember that this is very unlikely to occur.
However, for those who feel that the sufferer is likely just seeking attention, your opinions are appreciated but maybe you are not the correct Advocate for this individual. If you feel this way throughout the experience, please consider seeking some alternative advice for perspective. This could be equally beneficial for you and the sufferer.
If you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel you could be this person’s Advocate, please be honest with yourself and accept this truth. By identifying that you are not the suited person to help advocate for this person, you are making a positive decision. However, please make sure that another Advocate can be this person’s sponsor instead.
Depression, situational or chronic, is as serious as any other alignment we can all suffer from. It can appear in many forms and play out differently for each person. All experiences are unique to each person and should be treated as such, which is why the intervention of an Advocate helping to bridge the gap between where this sufferer is to a Professional is so paramount.
Depression is not typically something that just goes away over time. While experiences with depression can feel as if they normalize, the scarring left by untreated psychological illness can leave both negative mental and physical impacts.
As an Advocate, it is important to remember that your role is not to diagnose or attempt to alleviate the experiences this individual is having. Your role is to help with the bridging of where they are now to a future professional. These professionals are trained not only in depression but in how to help manage this illness through various means. Though I know it can feel as if your Advocate role has an attached part within this healing process, it is recommended that you help provide the rope and then step back as a professional works to alleviate the rest.
Thank you all for reading this. I hope you all are well and that this has helped someone better understand how they can play a role in the positive healing process of someone else.
— Sources —
Bibra, L. B. (2019, April 11). Empty Hanging Rope Bridge Through Forest [Photograph]. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/MCc1eDinFcI