Depression in Relationships
Depression is not something I would wish on anyone. I have been dealing with it long enough to realize that it is something I need to take charge of and not cause a burden to those around me. The fact is that depression affects those closest to you: your pain becomes their pain. Sometimes it becomes too much that they even have to pull back.
When you’re feeling hopeless in the world and that there’s nothing left to give, your loved ones pick up on that. It is beneficial to have a good support system, as that can help you through the darkest of times. But it’s also important to remember that excessive negativity can really damage your relationships with others. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way.
I had a good friend who I felt I could tell just about anything to. She said she would always be there for me. Well, I took advantage of this, unintentionally. I was having an issue in my marriage and confided in her. My friend had been a very good listener and had been divorced, so I felt comfortable texting and messaging her on social media.
I kept ruminating about how unhappy I was and had considered separating from my spouse. My friend and I talked almost every day over a four-month period. But after leaving one night, I realized how much of a mistake I made in my marriage. My wife and I did work things out, and we moved forward. So did my friend. Things between us had not been the same since.
I blamed myself for the change in our friendship, but I took it as a teachable moment. When the going gets tough, and the tough gets going, I know I have people I can talk to. But now I realize that I cannot marinate in my own misery and drain others with my problems. Although I had been in a different state of mind at the time, I wasn’t considerate of my friend’s feelings. Sometimes that is easy to forget, though it is hard to make things right again.
How do you make others understand depression? How do you stop wallowing in self-pity? These are not easy questions to answer. It’s almost as if we would need to be surrounded by people who think and feel the exact same way. That is just not possible. We are individuals with our own thoughts and feelings. There is no changing that.
What can become annoying is when someone says they know how I feel. How could anyone possibly know that? You can’t say that to a person who is suicidal. That is probably the worst thing you can say at that moment. We can certainly relate to another in distress, but we can’t know what it is truly like. Words can be very touchy around someone with depression.
My wife has been putting up with my depression, for better or for worse. I have my good days and bad days. Sometimes I tend to be quiet when something bothers me because I just don’t feel like getting into it. When I do open up, she listens. She may not be able to relate the same way, but she offers another perspective on the problem. That really makes me think hard, which is appreciated. Another person’s reasoning can allow the brain to absorb new information, which is helpful for depression.
What I like about social media is that platforms like Facebook have support groups that one can join. Many of these groups are private or closed so that when you post a comment, it is only visible to its members. This is a good way to connect with others. While not a substitute for traditional therapy, it can offer an alternative to group sessions if you prefer not to attend in person. However, support groups are worth trying if you don’t mind talking with others. It is good to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
We can learn a lot from being around others, even when we feel like isolating ourselves. Though there is no cure for depression, it is absolutely vital that one continues their treatment regimen. Seeking professional help and taking medication as prescribed paves the way to better mental health. It could also help strengthen your relationships.
The important thing to remember about depression is that it doesn’t have to define you; this is not who you are. And you don’t have to be alone with it. While having a good network of family and friends is one of the building blocks to combating depression, remember those around you are not to be taken for granted. Take some initiative to utilize the tools and resources you have to, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. You have depression; it doesn’t need to have you.