Your Depressed Friend May Need You to Make Like the Ends of a Dog’s Legs

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Yes, that’s what I suggest – to best support a friend in distress, we need to make like the ends of a dog’s legs.


Do you recall those occasions when you spoke out of turn, said something regretful, or insisted on your rights without much regard for others? You’re not alone. It happens.  Some of us  have received friendly rebukes or even been held accountable. We learn and improve.

I waited too long

Earlier this month, I heard something disheartening from a surprising source.  Because my emotions were strong, it seemed prudent to wait before bringing it up. However,  time passed quickly. Two days ago, those emotions came out in a disproportionate response to another issue in the moment.

A therapist once told me, “If we do not let our emotions out in healthy ways, they will come out in some other form, usually destructive.” This is one reason people self-medicate or engage in self-injury, or die by suicide. Holding feelings in harms mental and physical wellbeing.  It is also why some of us let loose those words we later wish we could take back.

Oh, Samantha

Everyone knew when Samantha was in a room. She had a way of drawing attention to herself. This is not a compliment in her case.

Samantha non-stop talked. She bragged this was her right, and if anyone didn’t like it they could shut up and listen. Then she laughed. On the surface she appeared disinterested in another point of view.

I watched as everyone around her grew quiet. Samantha had her audience and was glad. Regardless her motive, she effectively shutdown the rights of everyone else to speak freely. Consequences of her behavior probably left her lonely.

Wisdom is… 

Effective support for a loved one who is struggling with depression, anxiety, or any mental health challenge,  means being slow to speak and making the effort to learn.  That’s where wisdom is –  in listening and learning.

Unless a health condition interferes, we have control over what we say, how we say it, and when.  To avoid causing harm to a vulnerable person, and not commit mine or  Samantha’s mistakes,  it is best to take one’s time and hold back the rush of words.    

Take to heart the dog’s legs principle:  

Before opening the mouth to speak, make like the ends of a dog’s legs…   

and PAWS!


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.







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