Friendships in Depression | Three Things I Would Have Done Differently
Of all the things that happened in the midst of my darkest days of depression, the one I dwell on the most is how I handled my relationships. Let’s be real: friendships are HARD. They just are. And when you add the sickness of depression in the mix, it begins to seem borderline impossible.
I was surrounded by community when I was diagnosed with depression. I was a part of a group of godly people wanting to do life together. We met multiple times a week in each other’s apartments and would read and hold each other accountable. I was also living in the town I had grown up in. I had people that loved me everywhere – including my (new at the time) husband.
How did I feel so lonely? How did I push away THAT many people?
Something I will always believe is that depression’s best friend is isolation. Depression wants us to push people away. And if we aren’t actively fighting against that, it will inevitably happen faster than you can realize.
Theodore Roosevelt said,
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
This helps me to give myself grace looking back. I do believe I did the best I could with what I had. But of course, hindsight is 20/20, right?
So here is a little list I put together of three things I would have done differently in my friendships. This list could have gone on into the hundreds, but I think this is a good place to start. My goal for this list is to hopefully encourage those in the midst of depression and hard friendships to really fight for loving your people well. Even when you feel there is no love to give.
In depression, the truth is that you normally don’t have anything to pour. Your soul is empty and your heart is hurting. You constantly need to be given to while not being able to offer a lot in return. This was true for me and for many ladies I know. It is a heavy symptom of the disease of depression.
Recognizing this alone is a huge win. But don’t let it lead you to shame. Let it lead you to grace. When your friend that you’ve been relying on for weeks and months to listen and walk through this battle with you stops texting you right back, give them grace. When they seem like they are pushing away for a period of time, give them grace.
Letting your friends rest and find that pouring into that they need (and you can’t currently offer) is such a gift for both of you.
In the meantime, really focus on finding that comfort and companionship in God. When you feel the need to talk to someone or text someone, journal it out. Pray it out. This is training your soul to find your dependence in God rather than your friends. And that’s SO freeing. For you and your friends. Because they can’t handle that, but God welcomes that.
Don’t give up on them because they needed a break. Give them that time to be filled.
Alright, y’all. This one is tough.
I can’t count how many times I put thoughts into people’s heads. Or put motives behind people’s actions. (And still do on a D A I L Y basis.)
This is so so SO dangerous, Warrior. If we are battling insecurity, we tend to see everything that people do through the lens of “I’m not enough.” When that’s such a lie. It is SUCH a lie.
One of the most helpful things I have done in my mental growth is to trust what people say. When a friend says they love me or wants to hang out with me, instead of defaulting to “they just feel obligated..” I choose to believe them.
When my husband says that I look beautiful or that he enjoys spending time with me, instead of defaulting to “he paused before he said that…it couldn’t actually be true..” I choose to believe him.
When your friends encourage you, choose to believe them. Don’t let your mind twist things into what they aren’t. You deserve to believe the truth.
The last thing I really wish I had done differently is to have been grateful for my relationships.
I had a friend who stuck by my side through the depths of the depths. They were there ANYTIME I needed someone to talk to or to vent to. She invited me to be a part of her ministry – knowing how much I was battling. She invited both Jake and I into her home multiple times. She even housed Jake and I for a while after I got out of the hospital so we wouldn’t have to fight through this alone.
But I wanted more. I didn’t realize ANY of that in the depths of it all. My mind was rooted in entitlement and stuck on purely being the victim. I don’t know if I ever thanked her for what she was doing. In fact, I got angry with her more times than not for not texting back on time or for reacting to things differently than I wanted her to.
I can’t stress this enough, y’all. Be grateful for those friendships. These ladies that are walking alongside you in the midst of your darkest days are heroes in your story. They love on you and pray for you. They give and give.
Tell them how thankful you are as often as you think it. And please, friends, don't expect them to be perfect. These are unfamiliar waters to them as well. Give grace. Breathe grace.
Send them a note or a little bouquet of flowers. Not because they are doing it for a reward, but to thank them for being there.
I hope these are helpful to some of you as you are walking through these hard times. I am praying that this will allow growth and possibly a little less regret on the other side of things.
We are here to take care of each other.