Maintaining friendships when you have depression is really difficult. You don’t want to share your diagnosis with too many people for fear that people will reject you or worse, leave you. You’re not sure whom to trust with this valuable piece of information. This has been a hard thing for me too.
For about six months, I was scared to tell my friends that I had depression. I was scared that they would look at me differently and think that something was really wrong with me. I avoided long phone calls for fear that I would break down on the phone crying and I wouldn’t be able to stop. My only defense, in my mind, was to keep my depression hidden from them. This is when I figured out that maintaining friendships when you have depression was hard. I didn’t know what to expect from them when I share my news.
Admittedly, I was ashamed of my diagnosis. I didn’t want to be seen as or called crazy. Well, I am crazy, on a different level. But, needless to say, my friends are some smart and amazing ladies. Though I acted like nothing was wrong, they saw right through me. I didn’t give them enough credit that they truly did care about me and my well-being. However, they didn’t ask me or pressure me to tell them. They allowed me my space to reveal my diagnosis to them in my own time.
Depression sucks. Let’s just put that out there. It really does. It’s easier to cope when you have a support system in place. I don’t always call when I start to head down the proverbial black hole. I don’t want to burden myself with anyone. That’s pride kicking in right there in all its glory.
When I try to isolate myself from the rest of the world, some of them seem to notice. Somehow, the bat signal is activated and my phone starts to ring with caring friends checking up on me.
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” ~ Stephen Fry
It’s important to surround ourselves with understanding and supportive friends to help us cope with our depression. It helps if they understand what depression is and how it affects people like us. Most importantly, we want to surround ourselves with non-judgemental friends who treat us the same as if we didn’t have our condition. We don’t need people in our lives who tell us to “snap out of it” or to just “try to be happy.” Those are the ones that can’t understand nor comprehend the road we’re on.
Maintaining Friendships When You Have Depression
So, what steps can we take to help maintain our friendships when you have depression?
First, we need to be honest with them. If they are truly your friends, they wouldn’t care. Matter of fact, they will stand with you when you need someone to be there. True friendships accept all the great things and the flaws about us. If they can’t handle the fact that one of their friends is struggling with a mental illness, then you don’t need them. It’s easy to say until you have to walk in that scenario. I’ve lost friends and family members because of my depression. I was unpredictable and hard to deal with sometimes. They couldn’t deal with it. I do understand their feelings, but I won’t apologize for having a battle with a mental illness.
Secondly, do your best to still be a friend. Remember that in the midst of all of this, we must continue to be a friend to our friends too. It’s not all about us. They too have their struggles and need some support. Just remember to do for them what they do for you.
Finally, say thank you. Sometimes in the midst of our emotional breakdowns, we forget to thank the people that are there helping us. It might not seem like a lot to do, but saying a simple thank you will mean everything to them. It shows that you didn’t take them for granted and you really do appreciate them being there for you.
“Some friends don’t understand this. They don’t understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you’re wonderful just the way you are. They don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel,
Maintaining friendships when you have depression can be a hard, but it’s not impossible. Take the time to cultivate your friendships. It’s easier to cope with depression with the support of a friend than to go through it all by yourself.
How are you maintaining your friendships? I would love to know. Tell me in the comments below.