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Depression looks different for everyone

Do you know someone who is strong and always seem to have it together?

Check in on them. We are humans and not immune from everyday life stressors. First thing to remember is that we are afraid to trust you with our feelings. Either because we have been rejected, or dismissed previously before. On the outside we may seem to have it all together, we bring joy to others and offer great advice. We may be physically present when you are struggling, even when we are internally struggling ourselves.

No one is perfect, nor is their life. No matter what it appears to be to the world, everyone has their struggles. Because the strong friend doesn’t trust many with their worries, they are often dismissed when they do share them. Their apprehension is mistaken for a desire to appear perfect. And although that is rarely the case, this misunderstanding can result in their experiences being met with little compassion.

It shouldn’t matter what seems to be going right in a person’s life, if they say they are struggling, believe them. The last thing your strong friend needs to hear is that they have a better life than most, or great things happening for them. Especially if they are battling depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. What they are experiencing is likely internal, and no amount of worldly possessions or status can resolve it.

Here’s how you can check on them

1. Acknowledge that your friend is a support for you and for others. Say, “I see you and all you do for me and for others.”

2. Express your gratitude for the way your strong friend enhances your life. Gratitude has been shown to combat feelings of loneliness. It’s not only good for your friend, but it’s good for you.

3. Ask, “How are you feeling today, really? Physically and mentally.”

4. Text, email or leave a voicemail like, “No need to respond, but I just wanted to say hi!”

5. Ask, “What’s keeping you going right now?”

6. Ask, “Would you like to talk? I’m here to listen.”

7. Text or email a meme, an old photo of the two of you or an article they might like and say, “This made me think of you. How have you been?”

8. Say, “Like you are here for others, I’m here for you.”Ask, “What’s something you’re looking forward to in the next few days?”

9. Say, “I’m available to chat at these times. When are you around?”

10. Designate a “need help” emoji. Pick an emoji that you can both use when you need uplifting or the other’s help. Maybe it’s a parachute or a colored heart. One suggestion is green, which represents mental health awareness.

11. Instead of asking how they are, try asking, “What did you do today that made you feel good, proud or happy?” It is usually the little things that brighten our day or made us proud. Sharing these small joys or victories can open someone up one step at a time.

12. Ask, “What’s something that we could do together this week, even if we are apart?”

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