Not all of your thoughts and feelings are your own. We are porous creatures. If you are living with someone who is anxious or depressed, you may find yourself feeling or even acting out their pathology, especially if they are not actively treating their symptoms.
A lot has been written on helping someone struggling with depression, but not enough on the people who live with a depressed person. The person doing the helping often doesn’t even realize they need help—or that they are entitled to be OK.
More than 50 years of parapsychological research and thousands of laboratory tests have convincingly demonstrated that telepathy exists. The implication of that finding is that we feel each other, “hear” each other, and experience each other, even at a distance. There is a primary connectedness that makes our experience of ourselves far more penetrable than we think. What we experience most is the people we care about and the people in our proximity.
You are not professional help, and that is what depression requires. Remembering this will help you maintain good psychic/psychological self-defense if you are living with someone who is depressed.
In my workshops, I often see people struggling with symptoms that are not their own. They have areas of chronic impoverishment in their life and suffer from hopelessness that affects their ability to thrive.
Here are some things to consider and practice:
1. Designate a separate and safe space for yourself where you allow no intrusion. Create a supportive environment there, a sacred place that addresses all the ways you take in stimuli: sight, smell, taste, feeling, and hearing.
2. Have a clear goal in your own life and create smaller ones for a given hour, day, or week. This will give your life a framework that will keep your focus on the “can do” and prevent sinking into someone else’s depression.
3. Set loving, clearly expressed boundaries with the person who is depressed. These can include how often you will have contact, the things you will provide, and the things you expect from them. Be disciplined about keeping those boundaries.
4. Clean up your telepathy by differentiating between which telepathic dialogues that appear “in your head” are useful to you and which are not. Whenever you begin conversing with the depressed person in your head, or allowing other disempowering dialogues to enter your thoughts, redirect them to the conversations you want to be having. Telepathically speak to someone you want to get closer to, or a colleague you want to interest in your work. Shift it to any productive dialogue. You will find that this not only creates a disengagement that may help the depressed person take action, it will also build your life.
5. No New Damage is the rule in life, but especially in crisis. In any interaction, evaluate the risk/reward, and choose you.
Your first obligation is to you.
Embody that functional reality, and you will be strong enough to lend a hand when you need to.
Editor’s note: If you are struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
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