This post is meant to help people who know someone or is dating someone that has gone through a tough time in life. Sometimes it is hard knowing what to say or do when you learn about something difficult. Even I know people who have been depressed, suicidal, sexually assaulted or suffer from anxiety. Whatever the case, some people carry around baggage. That baggage should not frighten you. We are all human and we all carry around some sort of heavy weight on our shoulders. When you don’t know what to do or say, these tips are meant to help you!
Tip 1: Learn what hurts
If you are in a relationship or know someone who has suffered through a traumatic event, whether its mental, physical, psychological or emotional, you should try to understand him or her and their past as much as possible. Do not pressure them into telling you. It can be hard for someone who has been hurt in any way to open up about their wounds. It can take one conversation or 100 to finally open up, its all about trust! When you do open up try to listen with no judgment, no criticism and no comments. Wait until their story is over and comfort them as much as they need. Learning someone’s past can be difficult but it can also affect your future with that person. Take their struggles seriously even if you might not fully understand or if it doesn’t apply to you. Help ease their anxiety or hurt by acknowledging you understand.
Tip 2: Triggers
Simple words, phrases or actions can trigger some unpleasant memories for people. If your partner or friend has told you about what triggers sadness, anger or fear it is best to try and remember. Even if the two of you are fighting it is never wise to do or say anything that can seriously hurt them. If they have trusted you with their fears about relationships, being alone, or even spiders, it is never wise to throw it in their face (especially the spiders…never). The triggers are never your fault! They are a manifestation of an awful memory from the past. Hopefully you can handle this task of trying to protect someone you care about from any triggers while you’re around. I believe in you! You can do it!
Tip 3: Mood Swings? Probably
Having mood swings happens to pregnant woman, your parents and even the professor who promises no homework and then sees two girls talking and assigns that 3 page paper “just because”. Of course someone who has been hurt from the past can experience random mood swings. Some days your partner or friend might want to be in control of everything. They’ll pick what’s for dinner, what you should watch for TV, they could demand chocolate cake at any moment or they might demand to be left alone. Other days they might have no input. This all depends on how they are feeling so the best way to do that is ask. Step back. Read their body language. Are they happy? Do they look closed off? Talk to them. A few moments of deduction and conversation can really make the difference between a good and bad day.
Tip 4: Be considerate
Sometimes after a long day or work or school it is hard to be considerate of your partner. This is especially true if they are not considerate of you in the moment either. My advice is to step away or step back from any tense moment and consider alternative ways of handling the situation. Did they just remember or experience something unpleasant? Was there anything you did? Are you clueless to what happened in every sense of the word? It is ok! Just relax and be the calm one. Chances are if they are having a bad day, your fault or not, they will appreciate one of you being the sane one. If you talk it out everything will be ok. Just try to remember you might not know the whole story so let them help you piece it together.
Tip 5: Love them
Simple gestures can easily say “I love you”. You brought over some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? I love you. You texted me back at 2am because you know I’m lonely? I love you. You knew I was wrong but didn’t make fun of me for it? I love you.
Lets face it, we all have bad day. Some people take those bad days and make them even worse for themselves. If you love someone or know someone that has these “harder days” just show that you care. Be next to them, hug them, keep them company, send a message saying you’re thinking of them. The number one rule? Don’t go overboard; you can push people away by caring too much (yes this is a thing). If you watch Disney movies when you’re down, it doesn’t mean your friend or partner will want the same thing. If you know them well enough try to figure out what they would want, or simply ask.
Tip 6: It’s all about balance
As with anything in life, this is all about balance. It takes both parties to participate and both to try. Whether you live with this person or not, best friends or not, or a family member, remember that this is all about balance. Ying and Yang. Chocolate and vanilla. It is never your job to keep someone happy or feel pressured to do so. If you know someone who might need some professional help, someone to talk to, or guidance see the information below. It is not your job to keep the pieces together but to recognize that they have been broken into those pieces and why.
Disclaimer: Some of the sweetest and most amazing people I have ever met have gone through some tough times in life. They are stronger from it all and sometimes even they support me. I love you all.