When depression takes hold, it can be insanely difficult to avoid isolating ourselves. We don’t want to bother anyone. We don’t want to tell anyone how weak we feel. We might even tell ourselves that it’s unfair of us to engage with others when we’re not at our best.
Each of these are lies depression tells us. There is absolutely no truth behind any of them.
Depression is a lying bastard.
Maintaining relationships, or even finding new ones if we’ve managed to lose all our connections, is a wonderful way to help ourselves out of depression. It takes effort we might not feel up to investing, but the return on it is massive. So how do we do this when we’re feeling most like we should crawl into a hole somewhere and never come out?
Take the initiative and send a message to the friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months. Don’t go on about what’s happening with you, but ask them how they’re doing. What’s new in their lives? What are they doing today? How is their family/pet/job/etc.?
If you’re in a romantic relationship, ask your partner to think of something fun you two can do together. No complaining allowed, just go and enjoy it. Enjoy the time with them.
Do you have a friend who is moving? Can you help them pack or watch children so they can be ready to move? What about the friend who is always trying new gadgets, are they experimenting with something new you can try with them? Is there a friend who shares an interest in the same movies? Would they be interested in visiting and watching one with you? (If they invite you to their house, yes, GO. Get out of the space you’re always in and somewhere that isn’t your home. The change of scenery will do you good!)
What if you don’t have anyone in your life who lives local to you? Hey, it’s okay, I’ve been there. I’ve had times where I didn’t have anyone local I could talk to or hang out with. There are other ways to get involved. Volunteer work is still vital to the community and you might just find new friends there. You don’t have to work at a soup kitchen, either.
Just a few examples:
- Clothing Banks (washing, sorting, folding, mending)
- Libraries (ESL classes, Adult Literacy Classes, Reading to Children)
- Parks, Zoos, and other public spaces rely heavily on volunteers to keep costs down.
- Local schools (Here in Albuquerque there are openings for someone to help in a greenhouse, web developers needed for an awards program, and loads more ways to help that aren’t in a classroom.)
Getting involved with others, building and maintaining relationships is a powerful way to get ourselves out of our own heads and break through some of the depression. Yes, still tend to your needs. Speak to your therapist, take your meds, drink water, and all the rest, but get your brain into a space that isn’t focused on yourself. Even if you volunteer somewhere or talk to a friend and later the depression returns, at least you gave yourself a break from it! You’ve given your brain and body a rest.
Do remember, getting involved and avoiding what’s wrong won’t resolve anything. You’ll still have to face the triggers and heal the wounds eventually, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find value in connecting with others while you do it.
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