A balance between supportive and pushy (depression)

Continuing the discussion from SANE Mental Health Charity - Black Dog Campaign & Selfies:

I feel very helpless and ineffective in the face of depression and negative symptoms. I do ask questions, I do read what I can get my hands on, and I do listen when people tell me what it’s like and what worked for them. Yet for some reason, I don’t feel I understand.

I wish I knew how to better support and comfort someone going through a deep depression or negative symptom. It’s a fine balance between trying to help motivate and being ineffectively pushy.

There are many sites and chapters on how to help during a psychotic break. I wish there was just as much information when dealing with the negative symptoms. It’s hard for me to understand the deep apathy, the lethargy, or the sudden withdrawal in any mental illness. I think I find negative symptoms harder to understand then positive ones.

When a loved one hits a deep depression I’m at a loss myself. The only thing that I feel helped me with my oldest brother is that, I’d like to think, I knew him pretty well before his negative symptoms hit him. Considering the dramatic change in his personality during his negative onset, previous knowledge of who he was, wasn’t much to go on.

When I was younger, I also held onto a belief that deep down in my oldest brother’s heart, he tried harder for me, he worked more to reach out to me. I also feel that when I was younger, there was more stuff I didn’t question, just accepted.

Now, my danger boy youngest brother, the hard-core, hard drinking, hard partying daredevil, has been diagnosed, he’s completely deflated before my eyes. Many people involved had a feeing that after years of manic, he would in fact hit a depression. But I am surprised it seems so deep. I’m working on finding that acceptance and suspend questioning. But this is a different person and a different diagnosis, so again, this might not be the right track.

I’m on a lead for a support group. They have contacted me back and I can attend their next month gathering. I hope I can get some answers and ideas on how to help more effectively.

I’ve been reading the bipolar sites that I was directed to. I even found some schizoaffective forums.

I still have questions and I still wish I could find that balance between being supportive and being pushy.
As always, ideas welcome.
Thank you for letting me post

From what I know about you and your family, your support has been invaluable, at least for J (you are his sister, I think). The negative symptoms are the most insidious ones, less visible at first but harder to get a grasp on. My negative symptoms make it hard for me to really understand people, so I sometimes have trouble with people I don’t have a close bond with, but my close family and friends have always been welcome bastions of stability and comfort.

Since I also have depression, I can understand what your other brother is going through. Depression can suck the life out of you, and especially after coming off a manic phase (which I fortunately don’t have, but my mother does), you can seem like a totally different person. All you can do to help your brother is be there for him, listen to him if he wants to talk, but respect if he doesn’t want to. It can be hard, you want to solve all his problems and make everything better, but he has to work through this himself. Be a pillar for him, someone to lean on, and he’ll be okay.

I hope you find more answers in your support group kidsis.

I’m in a depressed state myself, so awful, can’t get out of it, stay in bed all the time. I went out and played tennis today with my housemate and his Dad, and it seemed to curb the depression, but it’ll be back tomorrow. Already feeling it now. Where’s the mania?!?! Come back, I say!

Anyways, thank you for sharing,
Take care!

Hello @RowanAmethyst,

It’s nice to see you back. I am still J’s sister. :smile: He’s doing amazing.

This past March, my youngest brother had a meltdown and was diagnosed with Bipolar 1.

I do remember how much harder it was to interact with my big brother when he was in deep with negative symptoms. You’re right about the misunderstanding, he and I would misunderstand each other a lot when he was fighting through the negative side.

Thank you for the idea of wanting to solve my brother’s problems. I do get in that mind set. As an outsider looking in, I can’t fix anything. That is hard to accept.

@YakDip I’m sorry you’ve hit depression as well. Thank you for sharing too. I’m glad your tennis did help a bit. I’m trying to find a way to maybe entice my youngest brother out of his trailer. What worked for my oldest brother when I was 7 won’t work for my youngest brother with me at 18. This was all so easy when I was little. I had all the answers then I feel.

It’s hard to think that as I grew up, I lost all my answers.

it is good to support some one with depression etc…but it is important to keep your own sanity.
no one can/or should live someone else’s life.
when you are in the dark pit, it is only the person in the pit who can get them selves out.
someone asked me once what it is like being down in the pit of severe depression, i said " it is better now i have a coffee machine and cupcakes down here !?! "
take care

@darksith, I love your outlook on things. :blush:

That reminded me of the story of the Monk and the Strawberry.

“There once was a Buddhist monk who practiced his meditation by walking in the forest each morning. On one clear crisp morning, the monk heard a rustling in the leaves and looked up to see a large tiger watching him from a distance. Sensing that the tiger was about to attack, the monk started running as fast as he could, only to come to a clearing and a high cliff. Not seeing any other way to go, the monk grasped a large vine running partly down the side of the cliff, and began to climb down it just as the tiger arrived. So there the monk was hanging, grasping the narrow end of a vine, with a snarling tiger above him, and a long deadly fall beneath him. To make matters worse, a mouse appeared and to began gnaw on the vine, just above him, but out of his reach. Just then, the monk noticed a wild strawberry plant growing from the side of the cliff, with one plump red strawberry on it. He reached out, picked the berry, put it in his mouth and thought to himself, “this strawberry is delicious!”.”

you are very wise kidsister, i admire you a lot.
take care

It seems you are as usual doing what you can to help. Without the same bond that you and James shared this situation may not be as easy. Not that any of it is easy :blush: I don’t think that he is in a position right now to be much of a help. He has to relearn who he is. I think you are on the right track. For now acceptance may be all that is needed.

Thank you. I am trying to just let go and listen. I’m so used to actively fixing things. It’s a new skill to just sit back and watch. I am beginning to see that the 11 year difference between James and I worked so well to our benefit.

There is only a 3 year difference between my youngest brother and I. We’re more like straight siblings then J and I were. I have to let go of what I thought I knew and learn new skills all over again.

You already are doing all you can. Sometimes, for situations like this, all you can do is lend your presence, or be a good ear. At some point. with the right meds, and positive energy, he will come through.

I think supportive is enough. I don’t think you should be pushy at all when someone’s depressed. Just go and sit with them. Have a coffee together. Tell them your news. Listen to them. Invite them to low-pressure things you are doing. But don’t push. I think you have to show that you accept them the way they are. They don’t have to do anything to earn people’s love and approval, just be.