Today is World Mental Health Day and it’s been a day of reflection for me, a chance to look back and see how far I’ve come. When I look back to when I first had Holly and how I was, how I behaved at times it’s hard to believe it was me.
But it was!
I thought I would share with you how you can support a friend who is going through post natal depression or living with anxiety, as I know it can be hard to know what is the right approach.
First off let me start off by saying that 100% the right approach is to actually approach them and not to pretend it isn’t happening to them. It will quickly become the elephant in the room and this will make them feel even worse.
You don’t have to say much and they won’t be expecting you to have all the answers or know what to say! But please say something. Just letting them know you are there if they want to talk, or share your own experiences. Even if you haven’t had post natal depression, most parents have had dark moments or tough moments.
By you opening up, gives them comfort to maybe open up to you. If they do, just listen, hold their hand, wipe their eyes. You don’t have to ‘fix them’!
Try your hardest to get them out and about. All I wanted to do was stay at home and hide from the world. I wouldn’t make contact with people in the hope that they wouldn’t contact me. I know this must be incredibly hard for people to understand and you might just think your friend has just fallen of the side of the universe. But they haven’t, they are just trying to get through each day and life seems easier at home on your own. When in fact the opposite is probably easier.
Of course you may have a friend who is suffering behind closed doors, just like I did. They may not in fact even know themselves what is wrong with them. So how are you meant to know? How are you meant to help them?
Ask yourself are there any of my friends that are being out of character, have they been behaving differently? Have they stopped contacting you? Or make excuses and cancel at the last minute? Do they leave early when they do make an appearance? Just take 5 minutes and think is there anyone in your life that could be suffering in silence!
I know that this was and sometimes is still me. I know that I’ve lost friends along the way and I don’t blame them. I’ve been absent, not made an effort and hidden away. But I didn’t subconsciously do it and they won’t be either.
I try really hard to get myself back out there, to try and be that friend in their life again. It’s not easy and I probably won’t get some friends back. But at least I know I tried…
Let’s open the doors to mental health together, let’s get people talking and lets try to tell someone we’re there for them!