My friend is depressed. Her apartment is a mess. Piles of dishes are in the sink. Crumbs, dirt and garbage are in all the rooms. Larry and I think, why doesn’t she do something – like clean up this mess?
We care about Kathy, so we hire a cleaning service. Does that help? Makes us feel better, but probably doesn’t help Kathy much because Kathy is depressed.
We encourage Kathy to get up, go out and do something! Volunteer. Learn some new interesting things. In essence we suggest, “Buck up.” We know in our heads that depression isn’t something you just shake off, but that’s what we want Kathy to do, “buck up and get on with her life.”
Then one day, I opened up the Wall Street Journal and an article jumps off one of the pages and confronts me. The article title is, “To Be a Friend in a Time of Need, Talk Less, Listen More” by Elizabeth Bernstein. One of her suggestions is, “Offer to talk, but don’t pressure. Think of yourself as a “distraction”—someone to have fun with.”
I am supposed to be a distraction—someone for Kathy to have fun with? So Larry and I think of some ways to have fun with Kathy:
- She loves books and reads one book on most days. We could go to a used book store with Kathy and browse.
- We could invite her to go to a movie, or have her over to our house for popcorn and a movie.
- She likes to watch football and basketball. We could watch a game with her.
- Kathy likes prime rib at a certain local restaurant. We could set up a standing date once a month. That would also give her something to look forward to each month.
We will try to be a distraction—someone to have fun with. We will try to stop fixing her problems and try enjoying her as a person. Be a fun distraction to someone who is depressed.
Read also: A Mini-Vacation From Suffering
Photo credit: Familjen Helsingborg