Today my intention is two-fold. One, to present an idea that, if utilized, could really make a difference for those who are seeking to be a support system to those fighting the monster. And two, to make an invitation to those who are fighting the depression monster.
One of our daughters is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Birmingham, England. She had an experience last week in a training that really brings to light an extremely important principle. In her words:
In this training, all of the missionaries pretended they were Wilderness First Responders. They were on a mission to find two missing people and get them to safety. We had two scenarios; the first one was a man who had gone skiing, had fallen, and was not able to move. We called three Elders to the rescue and they were told that they needed to get him down the mountain. They had called the paramedics and a snowmobile was on its way with a sled attached. Go! “What are you going to do to help this hurt man?” we asked. So we left that with the elders, stepped back, and watched. Elder S was on the floor groaning in pain, a bit delirious and talking about how his arm hurt loads. The elders started moving him and he passed out before they could get him on the sled. Scenario over. Failed.
Then we called up three more elders who didn’t really want to come up this time! 🙂 This time the man was motorbiking and fell. He looked beat up. Elder H was on the floor groaning and talking randomly about how he could not feel his foot; he was hot and thirsty and his back felt weird. Long story short…. They tried to talk to him and get him comfortable. Their jeep was around the corner and they tried to splint his leg, etc…, got him a drink… did their best. Sadly, though, they moved him and then he couldn’t feel anything from the neck down. Failed scenario.
So then we had to get everyone under control because the whole zone was in stitches! They did a really good job acting! 🙂 haha! We talked about the first scenario. The man had been hit in the leg by his ski pole and was bleeding badly; because the helpers didn’t do a body check or peel off the layers of his ski clothing, they missed the bigger picture. Then we talked about how this relates to us; if we don’t really know who the people we come into contact with are, or take the time to peel back the layers of understanding in their lives, we can miss the bigger picture or the problem that they are actually struggling with. Many times we focus too much on the problem that we see at the beginning of a relationship and don’t look deeper into the problems that they are stressed about–such as their family not accepting them if they join the church.
Next we talked about the second scenario. The man mentioned that his back hurt but he was focused on not being able to feel his foot and he was thirsty and chatting because he was in shock. The Elders failed to ask questions until they exactly knew his situation. They had all the information they needed to really help him but because they didn’t ask questions, sit back, and listen, they didn’t catch that there was a problem.
The lesson? For me as I contemplate the 12 years I fought the depression monster, I see how helpful it would have been for me if someone would have known to help me to look deep within myself. If someone would have known how to ask questions to get below the surface, to give me tools and understanding, to show me my blind spots, and if I had received, the fight with depression would have ended earlier.
So if you aren’t the person with depression, learn to ask good questions of those you are trying to support. If you are the one fighting depression (which means you are looking for answers, not passively willing to “just endure to the end”), the message is: open up. Tune in to my next post in a few days about my experience with not opening up…and why I didn’t open up for years.
PS: If you would like some ideas for good questions, reply to this post!