Health & Wellbeing

Ways To Help a Friend Through Difficult Times

TW: Abuse, assault, rape

AD | If we’re not going through a difficult time ourselves, we probably know someone that is. Unfortunately, that’s life. And it’s not always Peggy Porschen’s and trips to Disney World. I like to be as real as possible on this blog. I just can’t bare the false positivity that some people omit so much online. But online is an amazing platform to talk about the nitty gritty, including ways to help a friend through difficult times.

Ways to Help a Friend Through Difficult Times

If a friend or family member is going through a tough time for whatever reason, it’s so important to know how to help them in a safe, effective and sensitive way. If someone decided that booking me in to do a sky dive would help my severe anxiety, then I’d probably throw up over them.

Of course it depends on the situation and your relationship but today we’re going to talk about ways to help a friend through difficult times and a range of different situations they might find themselves in. I also took to Twitter, to find out what other people thought was the best way a friend can help you and you can find that thread here!

Mental illness

This is something I can definitely relate to on the “friend” side of the coin. When I was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder which ruined my life, my “friends” left me. Every last one of them. Nobody sympathized. Or asked me how I was doing. Or even invited me anywhere anymore. As soon as I stopped being able to go anywhere because my crippling anxiety didn’t let me leave my bed let alone my house, they gave up on me.

Not trying to get your sympathy or anything here, just explaining how much I really do understand what it’s like to be the “friend” that doesn’t get the support they so desperately needed. So if you have a friend with mental illness, you can support them by:

  • Make an effort to learn how their condition affects them e.g. do they isolate themselves sometimes when it’s bad? Or get angrier?
  • Offer to do something for them you know they might be having trouble with. But be specific. Asking if someone wants any help in a general term could overwhelm them even more and they’ll end up saying no. So ask if they want you to pick up some milk from the shop if they’re running low or post something for them.
  • Just be a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Sometimes people don’t need answers, they just need someone who’ll listen to them without judgement and know there’s someone on the end of the phone.

Physical illness

This is one I don’t have much experience of personally but I had a lot of great responses on Twitter about how to support a friend who has a physical illness – either chronic or temporary.

  • Do something practical for them if they’re struggling with energy or physical symptoms – such as clean a room in their house.
  • Don’t question their illness and experiences, be judgmental or make comment such as “I could never live like that”. Because some people don’t have a choice.
  • Make them a care package of things that might come in handy at that time or simply something that’ll make them smile. Fluffy socks, tea, a book, a candle, a notebook, their favourite film or something along those lines!
  • Be careful of your words and understand what your friend reacts to.

Related: Simple Tips for Friends/Family When Supporting Someone Diagnosed With Cancer – The (Other) C Word

Relationship problems

Something I think we can all relate to at some point or another! Relationships are haaaard and they’re a common result of an upset friend. So here we’re talking break-ups, cheating bastards and fuck boys.

  • Again, be a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to but also try and refrain from judgement. Your friends choice of partner is something you’ll likely have an opinion on. But airing that opinion in a “told you so!” kinda way isn’t going to help.
  • Take them away from the situation. Plan something nice for you both to do together which has no relevance to the relationship that’s causing them pain.

Help a friend claim compensation for abuse and assault

Nobody wants their friend to go through something as traumatic as this – obviously. But sadly, a lot of us will know of someone that has. Making sure your friend knows you’re there to listen to them and support them when needed is so important, as well as not bringing anything up which might trigger them.

There are also companies like CICA Claims UK who specialize in claim compensation or abuse and assault throughout the UK on behalf of clients who are victims of crime. They handle their cases as sensitively as possible, so clients experience as little trauma as possible throughout the process. Other things you can do are:

  • Don’t ever report anything without their consent
  • Don’t pester them about reporting it – it’s their choice and it’s something they have to do when the time is right for them, not you
  • Withhold your own emotions: Of course you’ll be angry and upset about what’s happened but it isn’t about you.

Do you have anything to add to any of these? What’s the best way a friend has helped you through a difficult time in your life?

Ways To Help a Friend Through Difficult Times

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

62 Comments

  1. Missy says:

    Thanks for sharing. In reading the comments it made me think of a scripture at Proverbs 17:17 “a true companion is loving all the time.”​
    So, When it comes to friendship we should aim for quality, not quantity. We want to be a true friend and Express appreciation.

    1. Very true x

  2. bethany jane says:

    I can find it so hard to know how to help a friend who is mentally unwell, even though I often am too. I think I know that the illness is so overwhelming and all-encompassing that I can’t ever ‘fix’ it so I feel silly trying to help. You’ve really opened my eyes to the fact that small, specific acts of kindness are incredibly helpful. I’d appreciate them so much if someone did them for me so I’m going to try to do more of them for other people!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

    1. I totally agree. With my anxiety I know some of the stuff people say and do to “help” isn’t helpful at all so I’d be mindful not to do the same to someone else.

  3. Missy says:

    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. We all know someone who is going through difficult times if it is not ourselves.
    This made me ponder, what kind of friend do I actually want?
    When things don’t go well and I feel depressed, a good friend can do a lot to relieve my sadness. Friends can be a real help when troubles threatens. They can warn you of danger and help you escape it, and can encourage you when the going is hard. The Bible talks about that kind of friendship – Proverbs 17:17 a true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.

  4. kayleigh Zara says:

    These are some really good tips, and a really interesting read as I know everyone helps their friends in different ways x

    Kayleigh Zara | http://www.kayleighzaraa.com

    1. Apart from mine, who just left me haha!

  5. Great post with lots of helpful tips x

  6. Great post for guiding people in the right direction. Some people mean well but it doesn’t relate that way.

    1. I totally agree.

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