Navigating Words: Supporting Loved Ones Battling Depression & Anxiety

In the tapestry of life, words are the stitches that hold us together. They possess a unique power – the power to heal or hurt, uplift or tear down. Often, well-meaning souls, driven by love, inadvertently leave scars with words intended to comfort. As believers, it’s our calling to be a source of love and understanding, especially when reaching out to those silently fighting battles with depression and anxiety.

Reflecting upon my days in Los Angeles, I recall the early shadows of anxiety that clung to me, even as a child. The maze of coping, understanding my worth, and navigating others’ perceptions became my daily struggle. And like many, I too felt the sting of words that meant well but cut deep.

In a world where mental health still wears a cloak of invisibility, it’s crucial to remember that our brain, the seat of our emotions, thoughts, and memories, is also vulnerable to ailments, just like any other organ. However, not all mental health challenges stem from a physical source, but many do find solace in medical interventions.

Navigating the sensitive corridors of mental health conversations, here are five things you might want to avoid saying to someone battling these internal storms:

  1. “Just let it go; you’ll be fine.”
    • Mental health challenges aren’t a switch that one can simply turn off. Expecting someone to ‘snap out of it’ disregards the depth and complexity of their struggle.
  2. Silence or Apathy.
    • Listening without judgment or empathy can be more damaging than not listening at all. A heartfelt “I’m here for you” can mean the world.
  3. “You’re crazy.”
    • This one speaks for itself.
  4. “You need to pray and read the Bible more. This is a spiritual deficiency.”
    • While spiritual growth and connection are vital, it’s essential not to oversimplify or spiritually bypass the real challenges someone might be facing.
  5. “Other people have it worse.”
    • Pain and suffering are subjective. It’s not our place to rank or belittle someone’s experience based on another’s challenges.

For those wanting to shine the light of Christ and offer solace, here are a few ways you can support them:

  1. Listen with Open Ears and Heart.
    • Your presence can be the healing touch they need. Listen with love, without judgment.
  2. Share Your Struggles.
    • Vulnerability can be contagious. Let them know they aren’t alone.
  3. Promote Professional Help.
    • Encourage therapy. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
  4. Affirm Their Value.
    • Remind them of their worth in God’s eyes and yours.
  5. Journey with Them.
    • Love demands action. Stand by them, even when the path gets rocky.

In our walk with God and with others, let’s remember that love, patience, and understanding can bridge gaps, mend wounds, and bring the healing touch that many in our midst silently yearn for. Let’s be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that desperately needs it.