Maintaining relationships while you’re depressed can be extremely hard. I know for many people, life in general can be tough during periods of depression. Having to face others who once knew the healthier, happier you, can feel embarrassing, shameful, and even downright frustrating. You might feel like you can’t be yourself around others because you’re trapped inside the walls of depression. First, know these things are all completely normal to feel. Most people suffering depression experience this, but there are some ways to still maintain relationships with those you care about and who care about you. Over time, maintaining relationships while you’re depressed can be a critical part of helping you heal and recover, so don’t isolate yourself.
1. Do Small Things
To make sure you’re maintaining relationships when you’re depressed, occasionally do small things with others. It doesn’t have to be anything too dramatic, or overwhelming, just something small: maybe a coffee date; a chat on the phone; a short visit with them if they ask to come over; or, maybe it’s as simple as lunch. Doing small things with people in your life is one of the best ways to maintain relationships. If you don’t, they may feel like you’re pushing them away, and might not understand why you’re isolating yourself from them when they just care about you.
2. Focus on the Long Term
During depression, all you can think about is the here and now and how miserable you are. However you can, try to focus on the long term. Two years from now, do you want to be alone, and be without certain people in your life? Withdrawing from them now isn’t the way to keep them around, for sure. Be sure you focus on the long term and remember, the depression will pass, but don’t let relationships with people you love pass along with it.
3. Find Someone to Confide in
Of all the relationships you have, I bet there are one or two people who will understand your struggles. I’m even more willing to bet someone you know has been through the same thing. Try to find someone to confide in that might understand what you’re going through. This can help you overcome the feeling of isolation, which depression is known to entrap you in.
4. Forget Perfection
I remember during the worst of my depression, I knew I was a mess. I felt like it, I looked like it, and I knew I was a pure mess. Don’t try to hide this from people in your life. They’ll see right through it. Perfection isn’t possible, no matter who you are, depressed or not. Forgetting the need to be perfect will help you let down your guard and make you more vulnerable, which is key to keeping people in your life. No one expects you to be perfect, so why try to be? Forget perfection, and focus on productivity in taking steps forward.
5. Remember Their Feelings
Depression is one of the most selfish, helpless diseases. It robs you of the ability to think about others' feelings because it engulfs you in feelings of sadness and self pity. One of the best ways to maintain relationships with others during depression, is to try to remember their feelings. How will your best friend feel when she loses you to depression? How will your parents feel? Use every bit of strength you have inside to fight back, and try to think about their feelings. Over time, this practice can help you keep relationships that you and I both mean more to you than being alone ever will.
6. Write out Your Feelings
I kept a journal during my days of depression, and I rarely looked forward to writing down how bad life was, but I made myself. It helped me process thoughts and feelings, better than I could sort them out in my head. It also gave me a visual for areas in my life that needed work, which included relationships. I realized that I had lost so many people close to me, and let depression take that away. As I wrote out my feelings, I was better able to combat the isolation that got me there to begin with. Start a journal daily, and even if you only write out five sentences each day, write out what’s important to you, what you want in your life, and how you feel right now. Over time, the goal is to understand what’s important to you and what you want. Part of that is by maintaining relationships with those you love, which will help restore your sense of life and vitality.
7. Try New Things with Them
Sometimes, an environment or association with something negative in our life can often bring up bad memories, even if it’s with people we love. For instance, the trigger of certain environments were upsetting to me, even if I was with people I loved, because it reminded me of other things in my life I lost that caused the depression. So, I had to find new things to do with them, in new environments. I joined a gym and started shopping at a different supermarket. I started going to a movie with one, instead of certain school functions, and I even started baking for one of them, as an excuse to do something nice for someone for a change. Try new things, and start finding new ways to enjoy those around you. This one thing can help you heal almost better than anything else. Give it a little time, and keep trying, it does work!
Don’t let depression steal the people in your life that mean the most to you. No matter how much you hurt and might want to be alone, it’s not worth it in the long run. If you’ve ever overcome depression, do you have any tips for how you maintained relationships in your life?