24 Jun Ways I Maintain Healthy Friendships Despite My Depression
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
Having depression affects my everyday life. It can make normal things seem really difficult—getting up in the morning, focusing on schoolwork, talking to my family.
Something I really used to struggle with was maintaining positive friendships. When I was diagnosed with depression, I thought my friends were going to notice and judge me. I thought things were going to change and I’d lose them, but all it took was small changes in my actions and feelings in order to keep things the same and even bring myself closer to them.
Reflecting on my thoughts and feelings is the first step to healthy friendships. It’s harder to know how to properly interact with others if you don’t know yourself first. When it felt like things were getting harder, I sat down and thought about why I feel the way I do and how the relationships with my friends affect that feeling.
I thought about what made me upset and what triggered me in regard to the people around me. For example, I would be particularly sad if one of my friends seemed to be getting closer with somebody else. I would feel left out and lonely. Recognizing this about myself allowed me to target that feeling and tackle it on its own. Being self-aware can be much less intimidating if you break it down into smaller pieces.
Communication is Key
This is a golden rule for any relationship at any point in your life. I’ve found that being open and honest with people who you trust can be relieving and eye-opening. When I felt ready, I opened up to my close friends about my depression. I was really nervous to tell them, but it went so much better than I imagined.
My friends were understanding and caring in response to my diagnosis, and this set the precedent for me to feel comfortable telling them things from that moment forward. For example, like I said before, if I felt sad seeing my friend get close with somebody else and I snapped at them because of it, I could be honest with them about why I acted that way. Letting them know what goes on in my mind sheds light on the situation for them and takes the pressure of being a perfect friend off me.
Another Layer of Support
Talking to my friends about my depression didn’t only make things easier for us both, but it also brought us closer together. Now that they know about my mental illness, they understand me way more than they did before and I don’t feel like there’s this piece of my life that I’m hiding from them.
It’s also really nice to know that I have another layer of support in them. They accept me for who I am, depression and all, and they know what makes me feel better and what triggers me. I’ve also come to appreciate them even more than I did before, which makes me feel better-suited to support them whenever they need it too.
Being honest with my friends was the best decision I could have made. I know it can be really scary to open up to people, but if you truly care about and trust someone, it can be so helpful in coping with your mental illness.