In last month’s introductory post, I brought up several methods that can help someone cope with depression. One of these coping mechanisms was developing supportive relationships.
Oftentimes when dealing with something like depression, eating disorders, cutting, and thoughts of suicide, it can be easy to feel alone, and separate from the world. Shutting down and blocking out everyone, especially those closest to you, is a common side effect from going through something painfully difficult. Depression can easily destroy open communication and as a result you can wake up one day realizing that every friend you once had was gone. This happened to me.
Here are some ways I’ve learned to build relationships (which also helps with my depression):
- Talk to one person about how you are feeling
- Schedule weekly meet-ups with someone you trust
- Confide in a counselor
- Go for a walk with a work-out buddy
I was happy to discover that when I experienced the where-have-all-of-my-friends-gone epiphany that there were still a few of them lingering in my life enough to reestablish bonds. Recently I met up with a friend of mine that I have known since I was nine years old. For the last 12 years we have been in and out of each other’s lives but one thing remained blatantly clear and that was no matter how much time had passed we could act like nothing had changed. Had I not taken the initiative to call her and make sure we saw each other I might have missed out on a chance at reconnecting.
When I initially brought up the unsettling feeling that I was all alone to my counselor she asked me, “what can you be doing to change this?” The question resonated within me for weeks and I have since then been trying to answer that question a different way every week. Contacting my friend of 12 years and initiating a reunion was the first plan.
One of the biggest things I could do for my well-being and overcoming depression was to realize my faults and what I may have done to ruin relationships instead of just blaming my unhappiness and loneliness on others. I came across a book by Bob Murray, PhD and Alicia Fortinberry, MS called Creating Optimism: A Proven, Seven-Step Program for Overcoming Depression (McGraw-Hill) which represents a dramatic breakthrough in understanding and getting what we need to make us happy, effective and emotionally healthy.
- Techniques for building a supportive and healing network of relationships–the only lasting solution to depression.
- How to create and negotiate boundaries (versus barriers) that transform every relationship (with spouse, friends, colleagues, boss and children) from so-so or outright abusive to supportive and empowering.
- Dramatically different step-by-step instructions on how to elevate self-esteem, uncover your competence and get others to give you the support you need to shine.
- How to find a life-long purpose that sustains you and access one of the most powerful antidepressants–your innate spirituality.
- Advice and concrete tools for care-givers working with people in the grips of depression.”
There are a lot of clichés regarding “self-help books.” However, I have come to learn that sometimes reading these books does not mean following every piece of advice that doctor or writer has to offer but rather allowing it to help you gather your own thoughts and opinions in which you can then figure out what is the right thing for you personally.
So, if you have realized that you’re dealing with loneliness and that the number of friends you have is dwindling, stop and think of what you can do to make the necessary changes to rid yourself of loneliness. For me it was no longer hiding and finally being honest with myself that I was the one pushing people away out of fear that they would judge me or think negatively of me for my depression. Any step in the right direction is just that, a step.
If you’re interested in the book for yourself or to recommend it, check out their website.