Three common complaints that I see in social media, from depressed people, is that they have no friends, no social life, or no support group. In fact, quite often they feel abandoned by their friends and family.
You see, when someone is depressed, they often withdraw, and they focus inwards. They stop communicating with friends and loved ones. They turn down invitations for coffee, dinners, working out, and other social engagement options. Because of this, to your friends and loved ones, you no longer seem to make any effort, and consequently you come across as being unapproachable, snobbish, or just disinterested in them.
I am a survivor of depression. And I do advocate for the depressed. In fact, I have made a video for friends of depressed people educating them on how to support a depressed loved one. I stress the importance of making an extra effort to be a good friend, reaching out often and never giving up on your depressed loved one. However, it can’t be all on them.
Eventually your friends and loved ones will tire of your lack of reciprocation and come to the erroneous conclusion that you no longer care about them. They will move on.
And you will very much feel like you were left behind!
Depressed or not, If you allow yourself to remain so self-absorbed in your own world, if you continue to fail to make any outgoing effort for social contact, you will lose those that you care about. That is a certain as the sun rising tomorrow.
So, let’s just say that you found yourself in this situation. What can you do about it?
You have to acknowledge that you share in the blame for your situation. You were not simply abandoned without reason or cause. You allowed your depression to interfere with your social life. You must accept this -- it empowers you to take action!
Next, I want you to to read this book: How to Win Friends & Influence People.
It is a classic self-improvement book written by the one and only Dale Carnegie. Read it to brush up on your people skills. Doing so will help you regain some confidence for dealing with people again. Chances are that you have become just a little rusty at it!
Once you have finished reading the book, I want you to make a list of the people you want to reach out to. Beside each name, I want you to list - How long has it been? Where did you leave things off. How might you best approach them?
After your list is made, the next task is to Make the Approach. In your mind, this may feel like the hardest part. But I bet you after your contact the first friend on your list, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that they are not only happy to hear from you, but they wondered what happened to you!
When you talk to each friend, You have to own up to what happened. Be very frank and vulnerable and tell them what has happened to you (depression) and apologize for not being the best friend you could be to them.
Listen for the feedback. Chances are they will honour you and your vulnerability and react with kindness and perhaps even some surprise.
Tell them you want to re-connect. Make plans to get together within the next week if possible. When you do get together, talk face-to-face about your mental health situation and tell them what you need to help them help you be a good friend. It may be a friendly push every now and then. Text me more. Or let’s set up a regular lunch date.
Repeat the process with the friends you want to reconnect with.
Next is the follow through. You can’t allow your depression to cause a repeat of what happened before! When they make the effort, you have to meet them half-way. Even if you don’t really feel it at the time. You cannot allow yourself to leave a text go unanswered. Show your friends the love and respect.
Being a shy, reclusive person by nature, I know that I am asking a lot of you. But if you are tired of being sick and tired, if you are sick of feeling alone and you are ready to take action -- now is the time.
Try out the above advice earnestly. I bet you will love the results!
Thomas Detert is a mental health blogger and advocate. He is the founder of Defying Depression: an online self-help movement that encourages those suffering with anxiety and depression to learn how they can help themselves.
Visit https://www.DefyingDepression.com to learn more.
Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for helpful videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ6Pc47mbH8or8fdHyWk-eg
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