Everyone easily says don’t worry about what other people think, but that is so not easy for a depressed person. We just obsess over what we say or don’t say or should have said and what other people think about it. How we relate to others is a big part of our illness and a big part of how people understand or don’t understand what we are dealing with…which is why I love the Facebook category for “relationship” because my all-encompassing response is, “It’s Complicated.”
Let’s just say therapy was reeeealy rough this week talking about my intimate relationships. Not doing so hot at picking them was the conclusion. Guess because I don’t really choose, I just fall into them. That is all I want to say on that subject for now, because it’s pretty raw, and I’m still working through a lot of details, eeek.
I want to focus more on friendships, coworkers, family relationships. Absolutely loaded subject for people everywhere, not just us chronically melancholy types. Work can always be a minefield. Especially when you are the newbie. Just trying to figure out the culture of the organization, and where you fit in is a big enough challenge…don’t want to make a major gaffe by saying something inappropriate. I think it’s easy enough to avoid edgy jokes and surfing questionable websites during your introductory period, but what about speaking up in meetings, preparing reports or giving feedback? Generally I feel like when hired, they like me for my intelligence and experience, and value my opinion. So it’s hard to temper that with saying just the most “politically correct” thing, or avoiding being in any way controversial or questioning the status quo. Then, what can you say without worrying about having to process it through the “what will they think about this?” filter. By the time you do all that in your head, the moment to join the conversation has passed and the group has moved on to something else. There you sit, worrying what they think about your lack of response! Arrgh. When you do say something, it winds up being an unfiltered blurt, and either people don’t respond and just continue talking, or the room goes quiet like you just had a Tourette’s moment. Oh boy, that sucks.
Eight hours a day you need to have your guard up, so you don’t screw up by saying something stupid and have people talking about you. Just what you need, is a little paranoia that people are talking about you and are looking to get you to go with the generalized anxiety about work! Always good to build some friendships at work if possible, so you have a sounding board to let you know when you are having a mental meltdown. Just be sure that they are people you trust and who understand and accept your illness. It would be presumptuous to just put it all out there and hope for the best. Feel people out before you give your whole self exposure.
Friendships are so very important in managing Depression. Again, it’s that support system that let’s you know what is good thinking and what is abnormal and when you need to do something about it. When you feel all alone, Depression becomes worse. Not a good place to be. Ever. Sometimes you do reach out, and people just aren’t available, being busy with other obligations. You don’t want to whine and be needy, it’s so unbecoming. That’s when it’s good to have family to lean on as well.
Oh family. Love them, but they can make you miserable at the same time. I think I count on my sister the most. She understands my illness the most, sort of walked a “mile in my moccasins” you might say, but a totally different road. There is a six-year age difference between us, so for several years, we didn’t have much in common. But we both grew up, and we became the closest of friends. It’s a relationship I count on when things are rough and when times are good. I know she will be there for me. And I know I can say just about anything without worrying that she is going to judge me. And there are no head games. Matter of fact, we can commiserate about the head games others play, and try to figure out how to make our way in this big bad world.
This post has turned out way too long, but I think it’s so important to understand how crucial relationships are, and how depressed people struggle to initiate and maintain them. It’s never easy for us, but if we trust you, be assured that it will be a deep and lasting relationship. Unless you betray us. That’s a different post.