Written by Gracie Dougherty
I have had my fair share of struggles with my own mental health. I like to think that I have been through enough that I am able to help those who have their own obstacles, so I always encourage others to come to me when they need to. Being there for people who are going through what I have is something that is important to me, and I always want to help them to the best of my abilities.
But sometimes, it can be hard. It’s often difficult to hear someone you love struggling with things that you also deal with. It can bring back painful memories of dark places and moments. If you can relate to what a friend is going, it can be hard to hold back your own feelings and stories.
Put your focus on them entirely. When a friend comes to you feeling depressed or anxious, for example, try not to flip the conversation on yourself. It may help them to hear your own stories and how you got through it, but try not to dive into your own current feelings and emotions because it can push them out. It may make you friend feel like their emotions are less important or less relevant than yours. It may be hard, but focus on them. Share your own experiences, but try not to overshare. Make sure the conversation is entirely focused on them.
Be there for them always. It only takes a couple seconds to answer a text. If you’re in a position where you can’t reply to their text or call, or you can’t meet up with them, let your friend know. Tell them you’ll be there for them as soon as you can. And when you are available, be there. Let them know that they have your full attention and that they can come to you anytime they need.
Let them know who they are. When a friend is struggling, remind them of this: They are important. They are loved. They are appreciated. They are recognized. They are strong, and smart, and brave, and powerful. They are admired and they are special. They are who they are- and that is ALWAYS enough. Remind yourself that you are these things as well.
When you are helping a friend, make sure that they know that you are there for them. Remember that both of your feelings, emotions, and struggles are valid and always relevant. It’s important that you don’t overshadow your friend; try to help them understand that though you have your own hardships, theirs are just as important to you. Try to constantly remind both yourself and your friend of who you are, which is always enough.