Posted by fxckfeelings on December 17, 2015Share This Post
Part of what makes depression so powerful is that it doesn’t just wipe out your will to live internally, but pushes you to drive away the friends and partners that would help you fight back. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you feel like your depression is causing you to lose loved ones, here are five ways to keep your safety net intact and prevent a depressive period from damaging close relationships.
1) Nix the Needy
Select friends who aren’t overly sensitive or reactive, because somebody who always takes your random bad moods personally isn’t someone who’s going to stick around for very long (and will make you nuts with guilt in the process). Instead of straining your face (and brain) with a fake happy face, find friends who are comfortable with depressive symptoms and know how to roll with it.
2) Fly Your Sad Flag
Educate friends and family about depressive symptoms, particularly social withdrawal, sadness, and irritability, so they’ll know that what you’re going through is due to your disease and not their actions. Your message to them is, I’m not angry with you, I haven’t stopped caring, and I haven’t lost my appreciation for your jokes. What I have done is get stuck with this disease that occasionally makes me miserable and unpleasant.
3) Help them Help you
After outing yourself as a depressive, tell your loved ones what they can do to help when you feel down, so they don’t try too hard to cheer you up, get you to share your feelings, and generally make things worse (with the best of intentions). For instance, let them know not to take it personally when you cancel during dark times, but also that it’s helpful if they push you a little harder to get out of the house, despite your grouchiness.
4) Enforced Fun
Make it easier for your friends by preparing a list of those social activities that you believe are healthy and good for you to try doing when you’re depressed, even if you won’t feel at all like doing them and might not be at your most fun self while they’re happening. Then share it with your friends and ask them to help you create a social schedule when you’re down and hold you to it.
5) Emphasize Effort
Resist the depressive urge to find fault in yourself by comparing your social interactions while you’re depressed with what they are normally. Instead of noting how badly you’ve shut down, focus on the many steps you’ve taken to manage your depressive symptoms, including social withdrawal. Then give yourself credit for all the extra work they require and respect yourself and your friends for the value they place on your relationship, even when it’s no fun. You can’t control your dark moods, but with the right friends and approach, you can survive them intact.
More advice from Dr. Lastname