Depression can create feelings of loneliness and isolation, often to the detriment of your recovery efforts. It can be difficult to reach out when you’re depressed, but with the right knowledge and a little bit of courage, you can finally take the leap and talk to someone about your illness. This is the first step to conquering depression and taking back your life. Here’s how to reach out to someone when you’re depressed.
Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
Stigma comes in many forms, and often, even those suffering from depression will stigmatize their own illness. It’s important to remember that depression isn’t a punishment, doesn’t make you a failure, and isn’t just you “seeking attention”. Depression is a real, quantifiable illness that has a solution. While there’s no “cure’ for depression per se, there are steps you can take to overcome the illness and take back control of your mental health.
Often, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to reaching out. You feel that you’ll be a burden, or that the stigma surrounding your illness is all true and you’re just seeking attention. Depression has a funny way of making those afflicted feel isolated and hopeless; creating a false picture of what your illness looks like to others.
Reaching out is the first step you must take in order to take back control of your mental health. Don’t stigmatize yourself; you are not a problem, a burden, or anything of the sort. Your illness is real, true, and has a profound effect on your life.
Part of stigmatizing yourself is assuming that other people will see you in a certain light. While it’s true that mental health education isn’t as widespread and easily accessible as it should be, it does exist. Not only that, but the people in your life may have actually experienced the condition themselves; granting the first-hand experience and a level of understanding that may take you by surprise.
Don’t assume that the people around you won’t care or will be judgmental. Should you come across such apathy or judgment, simply move on. This only means that the person you reached out to has a problem, not that your illness is an issue. A lack of understanding can create this feeling in people, but understand that most people are willing to listen and lend a hand rather than turn away.
Keep Your Comfort in Mind
When you reach the point of “I need to talk to someone”, it can be an uncomfortable feeling at first. You’re unsure who will listen, how they’ll react, and whether or not you actually want to share the details of your mental health with certain people. When you decide to reach out, it’s important that you put your own comfort first.
Don’t reach out to people you fear will judge you if it makes you uncomfortable. While often that fear is based on assumptions and stigma, sometimes it can prove to be warranted. Use good judgment when reaching out to friends and family, and if you’d rather have a more private discussion, therapy is the way to go. It’s 100% confidential and private, and you’ll be speaking one-on-one with someone who’s trained to help you work through your condition (as well as be non-judgmental).
Your comfort should always be your first consideration, but don’t forget that your mental health is also important. Be sure you’re not just uncomfortable due to stigma or misunderstanding. It can also be helpful to ask those around you how much they know about depression and mental illness before moving forward.
Fear Can Hold You Back
Fear is probably the greatest inhibitor when it comes to reaching out with depression. Being afraid of people’s reactions, how you’ll be viewed, as well as other ramifications can keep you from reaching out when you really need to. Fear is a conquerable emotion; and one that doesn’t have to be an inhibitor to your progress.
Let fear motivate you rather than inhibit you. Use the fear of your illness to drive you toward a brighter future, to reach upward and outward for assistance. Fear is a feeling that everyone will face multiple times during their life, but how you choose to use that fear will determine its dominance over you. Don’t let fear keep you from reaching out!
Try a Different Approach
If a one-on-one discussion isn’t quite comfortable for you, there are other options to consider. Support groups and group therapy are good alternatives to one-on-one counseling and can help you feel surrounded by people who truly understand what you’re going through. This can be incredibly helpful in battling the feelings of isolation that often accompany depression.
Check with your local resources today to see if your community offers support groups or group therapy sessions. Churches, community centers, and even libraries are a good place to start.
The Bottom Line
Depression can be a crippling illness, but reaching out and finding someone to talk to can mean the difference between spiraling and working towards getting better. Don’t let the fear of stigma hold you back from reaching out, and consider alternative options if you don’t want to talk with someone one-on-one.