‘While you are away, try to find a balance between looking after the other person’s needs, understanding if they are not able to do some planned things or need a little more time to do them, while not asking them continually if they are OK,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘People with depression often feel like they are a burden on others, so try to just be yourself with them and have fun. If you are OK, it will rub off on them.’
This sounds pretty spot-on for me, alongside allowing a person to go off and spend time on their own without insisting that you come along or asking too many questions about it. On this trip I’ve already had to ‘go to my room to stretch my back / nap / do some work emails’ etc, as a mutually understood phrasing for ‘I need to go and cry in the dark’.
‘From a companion, I need someone who understands that if I say I can’t do something (like going out for dinner one evening) then I genuinely can’t do it, and not to pressure me into going,’ says Hannah. Word.
Danesh* has been with his partner for years, and tells Metro.co.uk that they have a series of preparations that they go through in order to make a trip away as stress-free as possible.
‘We do go on holiday together but it is usually short breaks – less than a week,’ says Danesh. ‘Anything more than that can trigger a lot of anxiety in the build up.
‘We plan as much as what we are going to do before we go there; we look for places we want to visit, places we want to eat, and we search the area near where we are staying so it feels familiar when we get there – this means there is less chance of her being overwhelmed by the new surroundings.
‘We also set aside free time, where we just wander around but there is no expectation on that and it is always followed by a planned thing.’
LeeAnn says that all she needs from her holiday pals is some understanding. LeAnn sounds very reasonable. “
‘I only go on holiday with people that know me and I’m comfortable with,’ she tells us. ‘They don’t need to be an expert, just give me space, encourage me to take my meds, show me funny videos and don’t make me feel guilty for having a mental illness, I’m trying my best.’
Essentially what everyone here is saying is to address that the depression exists, talk about it, and make flexible plans that won’t be overwhelming. Depression makes you feel like an awful burden who should’ve been sent straight to oversized baggage with no return, so treating it with normality will help.
While I’ve been away I’ve mentioned that my ‘brain is flaring up when I’ve been particularly low, which seems to help my lucky plucky holidayers understand that it’s not something I’m in control of, and it is an illness.
Danesh actually sums it up better than I can (thanks for doing my job, mate): ‘People are afraid of depression, they think it’s contagious or that if they do the wrong thing it will make it worse but it is no different to looking after someone with a cold or a broken leg.
‘Until we look at depression as being no different from any other illness then we will never help people who have it. It needs to be brought out of the shadows and seen as something that is everyday and common place.’
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified local counsellor in your area with Counselling Directory. Mental health charity Mind also offer counselling services, and you can call The Samaritans on 116123 (UK and ROI). The NHS even have a little quiz you can take. If you can, visit your GP for further advice.
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