Telling people you are struggling with depression can be difficult. Why? Often you just do not want to talk about feeling depressed or do not want to bother people with your problems. You may fear people will see you differently if you tell them you have a mental illness. There are still so many misconceptions about mental illness in the community that can cause a stigma around mental health issues. Do not let this stop you opening up to the people you trust.
Opening up to people about your depression is good for the soul. It is a step towards recovery. When people know you struggle with mental health issues it helps them understand what you are going through.
But it can be difficult to know how to tell someone you have depression or know when the time is right to talk about how you feel.
Signs it is time to open up
Depression can make you want to pretend to the world that everything is alright. You may not want to talk to anyone at all. But there comes a time when you need to open up. And once you share how you feel, you will feel better.
There are signs it is time to open up to someone you trust about your depression such as:
- Struggling to make decisions, concentrate or forgetting details. Feeling down can lock you into a darkness that distracts you from the real world. It is a dangerous sign when you miss out on important things in your personal and professional life. When you feel your brain wants to shut down or cannot make decisions, talk with someone you trust or a professional. Depression can make it difficult to concentrate on anything for very long other than the negativity running through your head.
- Losing sleep. Everyone has sleepless nights from time to time, but not sleeping night after night is not normal. You cannot function without a good night’s sleep. It will take a toll on all parts of your life including negatively impacting your depression. Try natural therapies such as chamomile tea and lemon balm to help you sleep.
- Loss of interest in what matters to you. Depression makes you feel empty, lonely and hopeless. And we can reinforce these feelings with negative self-talk which can cause things to spiral out of control. All this can make you lose interest in the things that once mattered to you. Being in such a state of darkness can mean you pull back from what once made you happy to help you survive. Nothing could be further from the truth and is self-defeating.
- Feeling suicidal. Feeling suicidal means you need to reach out. Avoid letting the darkness take over. You deserve so much more. When you feel suicidal it means you are standing at the edge of a cliff and things are really serious. It is urgent to talk to someone you trust or call a professional. Surround yourself with positive people who can support you through the darkness out into the light.
How to talk about your depression
Here is some practical advice to help you tell the people who matter in your life that you have depression.
Choose who to talk to
You do not have to tell everyone what you are going through. Choose who to talk to. Talk to someone you are close to. Someone you can trust and who will listen to what you have to say. A friend or family member who is reliable, discreet, non-judgemental and supportive. They can offer an alternative perspective to what is going on in your head. And if they have gone through depression, they can show empathy and offer tips to help you cope.
Your employer needs to know you are dealing with depression but not everyone else at work needs to know. To start with let human resources and your immediate manager know so they can offer support. It can be scary letting work know for fear they may judge you, or you may become the brunt of office gossip or people may think you can no longer cope with your job. But this is unlikely. Many workplaces have access to mental health programs and government services that can help you. Letting the appropriate people know at work will give you access to the information you need to help you recover.
Prepare for how someone may react to your news
It is just as hard to talk about your depression as it is to go through it. So it is important to find the right person to talk to. Someone who will be understanding. It can be a member of your family, a friend, a professional or a health worker. Talking to someone not close to the situation can be easier as you may feel more comfortable talking to them without fear of retribution or judgement.
People will react differently to you telling them about your depression. Not everyone understands mental health issues and how they can affect you. Just because people do react differently, it does not mean they care about you any less.
It can help to prepare in advance. Here are some ways people may react:
- When the person has no experience of depression, they may not understand what you are going through They may not understand why you cannot stop being sad and just be positive. They may feel they need to try to fix you and suggest things you can do to cure your depression.
- The person you talk to may have a positive, supportive response. They may ask questions about how depression affects you and offer to support you when you need them.
- Some people may not know how to respond. They may not have experience with mental health issues and avoid the subject.
- Others may get upset. They may blame themselves for not recognising your depression and worry about you.
- The person you talk to could have personal experience with depression or know someone who does. They may show empathy and offer advice that can help your journey to recovery.
Where someone’s reaction is not as positive as you thought it would be, know they are not trying to hurt you. It is possible they are processing what you have told them and ask how they can support you.
Write it down
Write down what you want to say in bullet points as a guide for that conversation. This can help you express yourself better. Even practice what you want to tell someone out loud before you talk with them face-to-face.
Choose the time and place
Choose the time and place to talk to someone about your depression. Go out for a coffee, a walk or on a lunch date. It can help relax the mood so you can open up. It is also a good distraction and can help you gather your thoughts. You can bring up the subject casually while enjoying time together.
But wait until you feel comfortable. You do not have to tell them what is on your mind straight away. Wait until there is an opportunity that feels right. Let the conversation flow normally. Ask them how they are and what they have been doing.
When you feel ready, let them know you have something important you want to share with them. Be direct. Do not be afraid to share how depression affects you. It is only when you share your darkest feelings you can shed light on them.
Let them know you are confiding in them and would like to keep it between you both for the moment. Even let them know that sharing this is difficult.
Do not feel embarrassed. While the person you choose to confide in may be surprised at first and may not know what to say, remember they care about you. You may need several conversations to help them fully understand.
Be clear about what you need
Be clear about what you do and do not need. People are not mind readers even though they may sense something is wrong. And you cannot expect them to guess. When you are not coping, tell them what it is you need to help you cope. Be specific so people can truly help you. For example, if you need company for a couple of hours or for someone to listen to you talk, do not be afraid to ask.
Your needs will change day by day so let people know when your needs change. The people close to you want to help so let them know what you need. It can take more than one conversation for people to truly understand how depression affects you from day to day.
We are here to help
When depression affects you, it may be hard to overcome especially when you struggle with mental health issues. Dealing with depression is tough. Even when you have support, you may feel people do not really understand or it is not enough. And when you are taking medication, sometimes you may need something more. If you are struggling, consider reaching out. When you are not coping, contact us to find out how we aim to help get your life back on track. But, if you reach crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to help support you through a crisis and may be able to help you quickly deal with things better.
We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spas. Book in today for my Emotional Empowerment Program. I have an introductory offer for just $79 so you may start taking back control of your life. We aim to support you to help you cope with the challenges and darkness of depression. Our help may alleviate the effects of mental health issues so you look forward to a future filled with happiness and joy.
Let me help alleviate the effects of mental health issues
My Emotional Empowerment Program has helped many people like you deal with all types of mental health challenges for more than a decade. We may help you move through and deal with depression which can be the root cause of mental health issues. My aim is to help you replace depression with a new hope for the future filled with happiness, peace and contentment in weeks not years. Listen to what Nathan has to say about my program after only a few sessions.