Hi there! Lovely to have you here. 😊
This post is mainly for people who suffer, or care for someone who suffers from depression.
I recently received a letter from a friend. His mother suffers from depression at the moment and he asked me for advice. She barely makes it out of bed for the sixth week now. I wrote to him about things, that help me in that situation. Perhaps one of you can find something useful in here as well ❤️
Thank you for your letter. I have to confess, that I am not that far from the state your mother is in right now myself and I was there often enough. It is very hard and painful. I let my imagination run wild and put myself into your position. So, with the premise that I would have the job of taking care of your mom, I have this ideas:
- First I would try to shift to this narrative: “You are sick. That can happen. You should rest till you feel better. And in the meantime we make the best out of it.” That narrative always helped me. The guilt of not being able to do anything is terrible and I feel it strongly. It helps, if someone else takes the guilt off me.
- Then there is this complex issue of asking depressive people, what they want to do. Those questions can crush my energy even more. Activities do good, but to get there is super tricky. If my love says: “You should draw something”, I feel immediately crushed and drained of all energy, because the task sounds so big. It is way better, when someone else prepares everything. And it also helps, if the other person starts it, so I get “hungry” to do it as well.
- Doing some art is a good form of therapy. Doing something with my hands can feel special in those times. I guess, I would bring some art supplies and a nice little project, like painting flowers. She could just watch or take part. She will see colour and flowers and that is a good thing.
- I would bring clay for the same reason. Clay feels wonderful. There is a form of therapy, where you create with clay whilst talking. But you can just listen to music and “clay away” as well.
- It is tricky to concentrate in that state, but learning is a mood enhancer as well. You could try to learn some new words in a foreign language together. Maybe there is a language, she always wanted to learn.
- Cooking together could be fun maybe. I would like her to learn me to cook some traditional food. I would come with the ingredients and do all the stuff, she tells me to. Or baking. Maybe she would just step in at some point.
- Music is lovely. Singing old songs together or making a small concert for her, would sure be nice. Songs from her youth would work best, I guess. Does she have a piano at home? Play just for her, that always feels nice. And don’t get discouraged, if she cries. That could be a good sign actually (of blockage breaking down).
- Reading good stories to her. I would probably write something especially for her, but you don’t need to go that far ;-). Best suited would be something funny, I would say. Fun texts are easier to follow, when your concentration doesn’t work right.
- Bringing the outside world to her. Bringing autumn leaves or acorns with the narrative of bringing the nature to her will sure be nice. Flowers that smell good. Little things that you found somewhere. Just a little surprise. And again don’t get discouraged. Bring her a souvenir and tell her, how you got it. A small story from the real world with a little piece to examine.
- By the way, you can also think of giving her something for all her senses. I don’t use my senses as much, whilst in bed. Stimuli are nice. Something to touch, to smell, to hear, to taste and nice colours to see… I wouldn’t tell her about it maybe. I just would give her stuff naturally.
- Animals. Animals are wonderful therapists. They have magic powers over depression. Of course it is tricky to get a good therapist in her apartment. A visit from a dog would be the easiest way, I guess. And they don’t have Covid usually. Stroking animals is good for your oxytocin level (that cuddle hormone that makes you feel better).
- Speaking of it, oxytocin is super helpful. I know, it is way too weird to stroke your mother 😆. But there are other ways. Maybe you remember that hand massage I showed you once? A back massage works maybe better, but it is way trickier. Hand massages are way easier and you could claim, that an expert showed you that 😉. Foot massages are even mightier. But it can be awkward for the recipient, if they have the feeling, that their feet aren’t clean. You can solve that with a warm footbath, that also feels great. And then a massage for the oxytocin.
- If you weren’t in a Lockdown, I would recommend to pay a person, who makes cosmetics to come to her flat. Or a podiatrist. Maybe she would like a haircut or manicured fingers (now and again, I meet people, who really enjoy a manicure). Note: That idea would not work for me. I hope, no one will try that on me 😅.
- Walks would be wonderful of course, but that depends on her state. Fresh air is good, but forcing movement can backfire hard. If she does not want to be seen, walks in the dark with a hood on could help. Wearing a facemask helps also in that case, and isn’t it mandatory anyway, where you live? 😷
- When talking about the outside world and Corona in particular, say things like: “The lockdown is working now. We will make it. We just need a bit more patience.” Also maybe: “You don’t need to worry about that. Now you are sick and in bed and you can forget the outside world. You can take your time to get better, you miss nothing out there. Life is put on hold, so you can focus on your wellbeing.”
- Don’t forget how exhausting everything is for people with that struggle. After 40 to 60 minutes of action she will desperately need a rest. Action also refers to things like talking, reading – everything you need attention for. It is completely normal to sleep like 12 hours and then for another 2 or 3 during the day, when depression is strong. We suffer from complete exhaustion. Also eating (doesn’t need to be much) is important (not too long breaks in between eating. Little snacks and no big meals is okay, if she can’t handle a whole meal. Seeing a big portion can be overwhelming.)
That is all for now. I am sure, I will have more ideas as soon as I send that😅. Please give me a sign, when you think that it helped you – or even better your mom. You know how much I want my through immense pain gained expertise to do good in this world.
All the best, Sibylle