Tips on what to do and what not to say when a friend is going through a dark patch.
The Dark Place
Many of us know how it feels to exist in a dark place. We can all experience emotions of despair, loss, deep sadness, failure, humiliation, betrayal, judgment, and abandonment in our lives. These emotions can overwhelm us and ultimately cloud our lives into blackness.
It isn't helpful when a person full of light and positivity shows up to tell you how to live your life.
When you are in a place of deep despair; when in the darkness of the mind, you can't see the light on the horizon.
There are different places in the same reality where a mind can exist. The darkness feels terrible, while the light feels great. Then there is that neutral place in the middle, neither one nor the other.
When consumed by darkness, we have a habit of looking downward, unable to feel hope. In the hopeless state, trying to shine positivity and white gloss paint over the problem is futile. Telling the individual how to live their life is dismissive of their reality and does not help.
How Can We Help?
Allow the individual to experience their feelings and emotions. All emotions move and shift by working through them. It isn't helpful to tell someone everything will be okay when their reality is far from it. Instead, sit by their side and let them know you are right there as a friend and ally.
When you both stand on the same ground, side by side, you can walk this path together—that's helpful. Let them know that you are a rock for however long this takes. Remain in the light so they can't pull you down into their depths too. Self-care is paramount, particularly when you care about this individual. Pray for them, and with them.
Do lose self-righteousness. It is very easy when life is good for us to get into the habit of telling people we know how to live better than they do. Instead, offer understanding and empathy, and be a source of support without imposing your views.
Maybe one day they will emerge, seeing the light and giving you that little wry smile as that little spark has lit once again; a smile is enough for now. There is hope.