Today the lovely Vicky from Miss Tilly and Me is back with another fantastic post about mental health and how you can help out friends who are suffering this winter.
Winter depression is a real thing, it's not someone having the blues or feel ing down. It is a real blown illness called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it actually stops people from functioning in real life for all of the winter season.
Winter is pants anyway with the daylight changing and it throws us off for weeks as we try to adjust to the earlier evenings. We think its late at night and it's actually only 5.30 pm.
We long for the summer nights where we can be with friends and spend long evenings with people, instead we are stuck indoors because we don't want to go out in the cold and the weather isn't so nice either.
My social life changes a lot in the winter and you do get stuck in a rut, it gets to the point where you really don't want to see anyone and you feel isolated. So how can you help your friends this winter?
Keep In Touch – A phone call can really turn someones day around. Just because they don't want to go out, it doesn't mean they don't want to feel alone.
Even if your friend is down and sad at the start of the phone call, you can have a joke, laugh and remember things that you have done recently.
Picking up that phone to make a call when someone hasn't been in touch, means you are showing your friend that you care. They know that you are there for them.
They often won't pick up the phone to call you, because they feel so depressed, but knowing you are there for them will show them that you care.
Have Understanding – You might or you might not understand what they are going through, but you need to be there for your friend.
Depression turns you into someone that you are not and sometimes it makes you feel like you have failed everyone around you.
You feel like nobody cares and that makes you push people further away. I know this because I have been that friend that has pushed people away as well as the friend that has been pushed away.
Pushing people away, makes you feel guilty for a long time after you come out of your depressed state, but it's a coping mechanism because you don't want to drag people down to the level of depression that you are feeling.
Being the friend that is pushed away, is very hurtful, it feels like you are trying so hard to help your friend BUT you are not getting any help and being pushed away.
They really don't mean it and as soon as they feel better, they usually apologise for how they have been.
Take Your Friend Out – They won't want to go out of their house, the place that they feel the safest but you can make the world of difference to a person's day if you get them to come out.
Recently a friend invited me to lunch, but I was feeling depressed and I struggled to feel enthusiastic about going out.
I was so close to cancelling the whole day, but sheer determination made me take those few steps to go out the door and I had the most wonderful lunch date with her. But I look back and think about how it could easily have ended so differently.
Getting your friends out and about also means that they are getting out to some natural light, I know its still grim out there, but it is so much better than the lighting in your house.
Don't Let Them Slip Into Bad Habits – I am really bad for this, when I am having a depressing time, I start sleeping through the day.
It's not because I am tired, its because I want the day or days to pass in a blur. Sleep means that I can lose a few hours of the day, rather than sit and twiddle my fingers.
Food is always a bad one for me too, I can go to the shop around the corner and buy two share size bars of Cadbury chocolate and a Share size bag of crisps and sit and eat it all myself.
This isn't good for my weight, my mood or my enthusiasm, it might make me feel good for an hour or two but it can have longer consequences that I have to deal with.
This winter, I am following the Slimming world diet. So even when I want to eat, I am trying to eat healthily.
If I crave something sweet and need to binge, I will reach for a yoghurt. If I really need that chocolate fix, I will reach for a mini size chocolate bar.
I am also finding that changing my diet has made me more enthusiastic this winter.
When your friend is suffering like this, they often won't say anything because they don't want to worry you.
They will hide the depression and that will only fester inside of them. Sometimes, just being there is enough for them and means the world to them.
About the author:
Vicky at www.misstillyandme.co.uk suffers from depression and she writes about it quite alot, so please pop over and take a look.