I appreciate this is a hard subject for many. I have not suffered from depression however I felt it would be useful to educate myself on the illness to make myself available to help others and perhaps normalise any conversation around mental health, after all 4 out of 4 have mental health. 

Two books have really helped this:

1. Reasons to stay alive - Matt Haig


page 46 and 86 - examples of symptons and warning signs 

page 120 - how to be there for someone with depression or anxiety 

page 202 - an extensive list of reasons to stay alive from those with depression

2. The boy between - Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse


page 77 - the honest frustrations of a carer learning about the illness. Don't feel bad if you feel this yourself however do your best to learn how to manage

page 81 - a take on not trying to cure each sympton you see (mental health does not just appear above the shoulders) but taking a 30k ft view of the situation

page 145 - a reminder that no one owes an apology who is unwell. The illness controls the individual's thoughts not them

page 188 - explaining why constantly making suggestions to help them recovery might not be helpful

page 262 - similar to Matt Haig, a helpful list of how to support someone with the illness

I felt that an overriding message from both books for those caring for someone with depression or anxiety was to:

  • Remember that you are needed, and appreciated, even if it seems you are not
  • Slow down, be there for them and be patient
  • Have someone to speak to about any feelings you have as it will be a different experience
  • Educate yourself
  • Appreciate that you and them are not alone 
  • Tough love does not work

I have also heard the brilliant Rob Stephenson say that it is critically important to "put your own oxygen mask on first" as a carer and prioritising your own wellbeing to have the reserves to support your loved one.