We all care about our friends, so if you start to notice that your friend is appearing like they’re struggling, it’s a lot to handle. Don’t be upset, if your friend doesn’t overtly explain that they’re having a hard time. Everyone handles their challenges differently, and there are a lot of reasons why someone wouldn’t disclose their struggles. Don’t take it personally, you’re still a great friend. We can tell, because you’re taking the steps to figure out how to help your friend!
One of the best ways to help your friend that is struggling is to have a conversation with them. Nourri’s going to explain how and when you should have a conversation with your struggling friend. Relax. You’re doing the right thing!
The best time to talk to a struggling friend, is whenever you have a gut feeling that something is wrong. Don’t overthink it. You know your friends, and you know when something seems wrong! Let’s say that you notice that your friend is not wanting to hang out or is irritable. All of these things are signs that they are struggling. If you feel like something’s wrong, it doesn’t hurt inquire about what’s going on.
Here are some things that you should try to do, when talking to a friend that’s struggling. We’ll start with the basics. Ask them to meet up with you, and then try to schedule an in-person meeting or a video chat. It’s best that you’re both in a location that’s private and safe.
But what do you say when you’re ready to meet with your friend? It can be hard to start a hard conversation. Take a deep breath, we’ve got you.
A good thing to do at the beginning of the conversation, is say that you’re concerned for the person and that you care about them. Make sure that they understand that you want to support them. For example, say something like “lately, I’ve noticed that you seem a little down. I want you to know that I’m here for you.” Instead of interrogating the person or making them feel like they’re a burden, just let them know that you are there to lend an ear if they want one.
It's best to be specific, so let the person know what you’ve noticed that has made you concerned. If they have said something that signaled that they were upset, tell them. If they seemed like they have low energy, tell them. If they were angry or sad, tell them. Sometimes when we are not in our best headspace, we don’t even understand that we’re coming across as angry or sad. Plus, we might be so used to feeling upset, that we forget that it isn’t good to be upset for a long duration of time. If someone is really struggling, they might become numb to the fact that they’re acting differently, so it’s a good idea to let them know the behaviors that make you worried for them.
Here are the last two tips, that happen to be the most important. And don’t worry, they’re really easy. Be sure to let your friend know that they are not alone, and be sure to really listen to them. Sometimes when we’re feeling down, the best thing for us is another person to spend time with, because depression often leads to isolation. Let your friend know that you’re here for them, whenever they need you.
It’s also a nice idea to send your friend periodic text messages after your meeting, to follow up on that offer. Be sure that when you’re talking to your friend (or texting them) you’re really listening. Don’t look at your phone or disregard your friend’s feelings. If they’re struggling, they want someone to hear what they have to say. Nothing is too small, and you never know what things can trigger someone, so be attentive and open minded.
We’ve been over a lot, so let’s end with an important reminder. Remember this: You aren’t alone either. If your friend talks to you about subjects that are heavy—topics that you don’t think that you can carry by yourself—you can compassionately tell them that you think it’s a good idea for them to talk to a therapist. It’s always a good idea to get a professional involved, if that seems necessary. We’re so proud of you for taking the steps to help your friend!