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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62 Comments

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

  2. 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 โ€œhelpโ€ isnโ€™t helpful at all so Iโ€™d be mindful not to do the same to someone else.

  3. 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 donโ€™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. Great post, and I understand being abandoned by friends. After H’s stroke so many people told me I just needed to ask and they’d help, but whenever I asked, excuses were found. It was hurtful and maddening.

    So I think I would add only offering help if one can actually be there. Or at least let your friend know when you are and aren’t available.

  5. Thank you for this post. I think a lot of the time people are willing to help but do not know where to start. This post is really helpful.

  6. These tips are amazing and definitely need to be heard by others. I try to do my best when I see friends who are struggling but I also have to be mindful of my own health. I wouldn’t be able to help if I get triggered first!

  7. Thank you for these tips – I can definitely relate to the mental health ones from my partner struggling so much with them and also the physical health ones. Sometimes all it takes is just having someone to listen, and that will make the world of difference when someone is not at full health.

  8. A post we all needed to read, to help others but also to identify ourselves in this. When I became housebound for mobility issues in 2009 I experienced the same, all my friends just forgot about me. Now I’m back out and about they suddenly interested again.

  9. I’ve experienced all except one of these first hand as the person going through it. The other one was a close friend, so I am all too familiar with all of these.

    I don’t have any friends that come visit me or offer to do anything and I haven’t done since I became housebound etc over 8 years ago.

    It does make you realise your true friends – if you even have any – I know I did not.

    This post is great though for someone who isn’t quite sure what they can do to support a friend, no matter what they are going through. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarah ๐ŸŒบ || Boxnip || Latest Post

  10. I’ve got/had friends and family who have suffered from all of the above of these situations, and this post is definitely so helpful to those who need to understand the best way they can utilise themselves as a help & comfort to their friends/family. It’s so unfortunate that life is like this, but it’s wonderful to either have someone there for you or to be that someone to another person! x

    twinklexthoughts.blogspot.com

  11. Nowadays people can only about themselves but I’m there are some people and “friends” who care because I do care about others and I look at every aspect(including mental illness) when helping a friend. Amazing post!

  12. Thank you so much. I have physical and mental illness. Also I have been assaulted. I have friends who try to understand. I would love to share it with my friends..

  13. Great tips! I think just like in romantic relationships, learning someone’s love language is important in helping them through tough times. You might think that hugs, etc. help because touch is your love language, but really they prefer something else, like verbal reassurance or actions.

    1. These are all great tips! Definitely think the main thing with both mental and physical illness is to know how they’re affected and what symptoms they’re experiencing

  14. I try to be there as much as possible for my friends, however, this is nearly never returned. I don’t think they really understand how my anxiety can effect my daily life. A little effort goes a long way.

  15. Good support is always important, and I thought that this would be obvious to so many people. It’s sad to hear that some just leave their “friends” behind when times get tough. I find your list of little steps/ways helpful and will pass it on โ™ฅ

  16. Good support from friends and family is so important. I think the best way to support a friend is to let them know that you are there for them whenever they need you.

  17. These are really good tips! I think with anything the best thing to do is let someone know that you’re there if you need them! x

  18. As I have an invisible disability, I’m very fortunate that I have such amazing friends who are understanding and will do anything for me, as I will for them. They know that my illness isn’t easy for me to live with and they are so supportive and cheer for me when I achieve something good and console me when things get tough xx

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

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