(Photo by Selma Komisky)
When You Don’t Know What to Say
By Kyle Jane Heskett
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Chances are you or someone you know has dealt with depression and anxiety. Have you ever struggled with not knowing how to help someone or have people not known how to help you? You are not alone. Like many, I have been in both places.
During my college years, I was at my lowest. I faced severe depression and anxiety. I remember certain things that other people did that truly helped me on my journey of healing. These things may be a starting point for you as well.
To start with, it is important to keep being a friend to someone. I have a dear friend of mine that I’ve known since I was a baby. In my early twenties, she would ask me to hang out or go somewhere and I would always reject her. Even when I agreed, I would often cancel last minute because I didn’t want to leave the house. But she never stopped asking. Over time, as I worked through my issues, we spent a lot of time together. We became closer friends than we ever had been growing up. She even was my maid of honor at my wedding. She was also one of the only friends I had at the time that never gave up on me. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling, keep offering your company. They won’t forget it.
Another way you can help someone is by simply being present when you are around them. Don’t let the pressure of feeling like you have to say the right thing at the right time get to you. You don’t have to fix them. Last year, I went on a mission’s trip and I started developing more and more anxiety while being away. I couldn’t control my surroundings and I was in the unfamiliar. One day, it seemed just too much to deal with. I told my team that I didn’t feel like I was going to be useful that day, that I had nothing to give. A friend of mine on the trip told me that it was enough today just to be present, just to be with the team. I didn’t feel the pressure to even say anything or do anything, but simply be there. My team didn’t cure all my anxiety that day, but they were present with me. Sometimes, that’s all someone else needs.
The third thing that helps others is prayer. It may seem like a no brainer, but easier said than done. I’m not talking about a quick prayer here and there, although those types of prayers are still good. I mean really interceding for someone, devoting time to go to God on behalf of that person. Listen to what the heart of God wants you to pray into specifically and do this on a consistent basis. I had so many people praying for me when I was at my lowest. It makes a difference, even if you don’t feel like it does. I truly believe the prayers of those around me contributed to my healing.
If you have any ideas on how to help someone dealing with depression or anxiety, please tell us in the comments below. We would also love to hear about what has helped you.