In the book Depression Canceled, psychotherapist Richard O’Connor argues that when communicating with friends, colleagues, relatives, a depressed person makes many mistakes that can aggravate the disease. But at the same time, a depressed person really needs support and social contacts. So what is the right strategy: stay alone or learn to interact with other people? Answer: of course, study!
Sea of Relations
The well-being of a depressed person unnecessarily depends on external factors – constant feedback from others, the relentless pursuit of achievements. Since it is difficult for us to have a strong influence on the behavior of other people or the course of events, the patient’s self-esteem is always at risk.
Most people need a relationship to maintain confidence that they are doing the right thing and deserve love. Such relationships can be given to us by parents and partners, children, friends, colleagues, neighbors and everyone with whom we regularly interact. We swim in a sea of relationships that nourish and invisibly keep us afloat.
However, the depressed person’s need for relationships is more distorted and disguised. If a person is depressed, he blocks all the good that contacts with people give, or avoids them altogether. It is as if he has not learned how to swim or effortlessly stay on the surface of the water and is only able to wear himself out, desperately floundering and swallowing air.
Loneliness and depression
If you don’t have a partner, you are more vulnerable to depression. But, of course, one cannot limit oneself to this generalization. There are people in their 20s and 30s who enjoy the fact that they don’t have a partner and don’t feel any depression about it. Or older people, especially in rural areas, who don’t dream of getting married again.
If you are young and single, then, most likely, rural life will be more depressing for you than city life. If you are older, living in the city is more of a challenge, but living in the countryside where you have roots and a network of relationships can be easier. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules too.
There are other factors that are important for a single life, such as money. If the wallet is full, you can enjoy all the benefits of culture, and this makes life fun and not so lonely. Being poor, lonely and isolated is a sure way to depression for most people. And one more thing: some people just don’t want the intimacy that is inevitable in a committed long-term relationship, and that doesn’t mean they’re sick or crazy.
However, if you already have depression, loneliness can make it worse. Hopelessness and loss of energy are very tempting to close in on yourself, to avoid contacts, and this only turns all your negative mood against you. If you are single and depressed, be sure to continuously make an effort to get out of the house and connect with other people.
We need fellowship; it does not let you go crazy, shows perspectives, does not allow thoughts to break away from reality. Train your willpower, set some specific networking goals (search the internet for old friends, call someone) and get to work.
Men and women: how to find a common language
Men and women speak different languages, or at least use speech in completely different ways, for different purposes. This linguistic confusion in many ways becomes the cause of conflicts in relations between men and women, not only in marriage, but also in a professional environment, on the playground – wherever representatives of both sexes interact. Women speak for communication, men for information.
For example, for a girl who has undergone breast cancer surgery, her friends will simply sympathize, and her husband will advise her to undergo plastic surgery. The girl will assume that he is saying this because he does not like the way she looks now. In fact, the husband is just trying to help with specific advice. It is difficult for him to understand that his wife does not want advice, but understanding, support and comfort.
Women are usually outraged when a man offers a solution, and men do not understand why women complain and do nothing. For a woman, talking about problems is aimed at strengthening relationships: “We are similar, you are not alone.” And from a man they hear: “We are different: you have problems, I have solutions.” Such inconsistencies cause a lot of problems for everyone, up to the development of depression.
The advice in such situations is this: be aware and discuss these differences with loved ones, try to find a compromise.
Love and disappointment
Often marital problems are the result of a couple either not being able to agree on the needs that initially attracted them to each other, or those needs have changed over time and the relationship has not kept up.
Future partners are attracted to the fact that each of them sees in the other a way to solve problems with their own self-esteem. We unconsciously think: “I have a problem with myself – I feel unworthy of love, and this person loves everyone. I hate making decisions, and he will decide for me.” But the partner often has the same problems. As a rule, marriages are faced with a crisis of disappointment, when one or both partners realize that the spouse is unable to cope with their own neurotic problems.
Let’s say a man has mild depression. He has low self-esteem, he constantly worries about whether people accept him. And so he marries a girl who seems to have absorbed all the self-confidence in the world. After a few years, he realizes that this is just an appearance, but in fact she also feels out of place in various situations and is afraid of people, and he cannot bear it (instead of accepting and loving the qualities that have been revealed, he begins to hate).
We stop idealizing each other, the initial stage of falling in love passes. It is important to understand that gradual deidealization is a healthy aspect of a mature relationship. At this point, the relationship becomes work. One must come to terms with the fact that no good relationship survives without the conscious effort of both parties involved, and such work leads to real opportunities for introspection and personal growth. By doing it, we strengthen ourselves and become less vulnerable to depression.
Relationships during stress
A good, trusting relationship can be the best stress vaccine. The couple has the advantage of a unique relationship that allows them to express their feelings honestly and fully, which is almost impossible in other cases. A crisis, of course, can awaken dormant problems or expose previously invisible, non-obvious cracks.
However, the crisis can also be turned to good: use this experience to learn how to cooperate, support a partner, appreciate each other’s strengths, accumulate credit of trust and perseverance, and sincerely understand how much you need each other.
It is widely believed that communication, especially between loving people, should be effortless, that truly close people are practically obliged to read each other’s thoughts. It’s dangerous to think like that. We should talk about our feelings and desires.
A partner should play an important role in times of stress, but some feel they can’t help and don’t offer constructive ideas, criticism, or emotional support. When one partner is depressed, it is not advice or a decision that is required from the other, especially if the person does not explicitly ask for them, but simple, purposeful human participation. He must listen , be interested and accept the feelings of the spouse; consider alternatives, brainstorm, play out different scenarios; give hope and inspiration, show that a person is not alone.