1) Stop blaming yourself!
Sometimes we internalize other peoples’ problems and we take on their issues and it drives us into the same dark place that they are in. Children want to know what they did wrong to cause Mommy or Daddy to turn this way. Spouses spend hours on the emotional rollercoaster wondering why they aren’t good enough to make their mate change. The truth is that some problems aren’t ones you can fix because you are not the source of them.
2) Encourage them to seek professional help.
NO, sometimes it’s not good enough to just pray about it. While prayer is essential to your spiritual journey, there are some things that we need help with in the flesh as well. People dealing with mental or emotional illnesses need treatment. It’s the age old saying that “faith without works is dead.” As powerful as God is, we have to meet him halfway. You wouldn’t tell someone with a heart disease or with diabetes or who just got hit by a car to only pray about it; you would encourage them to get medical treatment. Illness of the mind are no different, they too require the skill of medical professionals for adequate treatment.
3) Be supportive but not enabling.
People who are going through something usually want to be around other people who confirm their behavior. People that are battling addiction like to be around people who support their habits. And, folks who are negative or depressed like to be in isolation or around other negative people. Part of you supporting your mate or spouse through their issues is to not allow them to participate in certain behavior around you. For example, if their vice is alcohol they need to understand that a requirement to being around you is not using alcohol. Another way to be supportive is to listen without judgment or offering solutions. Many people just seek to be understood and sometimes that understanding will push them into action.
4) Don’t just “be there for them” help DO things for or with them.
You hear so many people say “let me know if you need anything,” well of course that sounds good. But not many people are going to ask you, so sometimes you just have to do something. If depression is being caused by stresses of life or care giving, find a way to eliminate some of that stress. If it’s the children or household stress then assist with some tasks related to that or allow them some alone time by taking the kids for a few hours or a few days. Offer to get them outside the house into the sunlight and go for a walk or exercise with them. Be intentional about physical touch because it works wonders for connection and care. If they’re your spouse hug them and hold them and touch them more often. Sometimes it’s not what we say, but what we do that makes all the difference. Life isn’t always perfect and we go through things and seasons in life. It is up to us to stay emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy so that we can be there for ourselves and for our spouses and children. We have to be intentional about our health, but if someone is going through a rough spell, it is our duty to be supportive but we must be also be aware that we can’t fix other peoples’ problems.