Tips for Improving Your Communication & Relationships While Feeling Depressed
Guest Post by Choya Wise LICSW, PIP
Could your depression symptoms be affecting your communication style?
Is it possible that your state of unhappiness or unfulfillment can affect the way that you interact with others?
Are you worried about your depression hurting your relationships?
I’m curious to know if you have ever had that time in a relationship where you were upset about something that had been said. Let’s just say you needed to confront someone about how you felt betrayed, or say you felt that they were being dishonest about something.
You Did Me Wrong!!
Maybe first, you thought about what you were going to say, then you thought how you were going to say it. You knew you did not want to offend the person, but you wanted to stand firm on your point. You were really disturbed about how this person had communicated with you. Honestly, you felt that you could pull off confronting the other person without showing the full flare of emotions you were feeling inside.
So you confronted your friend/spouse/parent. As you confronted them, they began to discuss with you how they didn’t realize that this issue made you so upset. Upset you thought. Am I acting like I am upset? Maybe the person you confronted even cried, seemed intimidated, or began to shut down because of how you expressed your concern. Oops, I did it again! I allowed my frustrations to get the best of me.
The illustration above is someone telling you that your communication style was offensive. How many times have you made attempts to express yourself to others, offended them? Yet, you were completely oblivious, unaware of how your actions affected them.
Are You Carrying Pain and Depression On Your Shoulders?
Many times when we are unfulfilled, and experience challenges in life that bring about depression, we are often unaware of how our feelings can affect those whom we interact with. At times the pain we carry can be so deep, that our shoulders can no longer harness the weight of depression. Because the weight is so massive, it is often unconsciously displayed on our countenance and seen through our actions.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, a critically acclaimed therapy aimed to treat mental disorders, called depression the result of anger being turned inward. Too often we reflect on our guilt from past decisions. We allow the frustration of not feeling accomplished in our careers, marriages, and relationships in general, to cause us to unconsciously turn on ourselves. It’s so instinctual, that many times we don’t even notice it. We may become angry, and inevitably express overt or passive aggressive anger towards those whom we communicate with.
These types of responses often wreak havoc on our relationships.
Because the reactions are often unconscious or unintended, instead of identifying our actions as the cause of fractured relationships, we mistakenly start to believe that there is something internally wrong with us.
Though we think that we can some way hide how we truly feel, negative patterns of thinking negatively impact our communication styles. Here are three ways you can strengthen your communication style while you are navigating through periods of depression.
Evaluate The Tone of Your Conversations
Although it’s not intentional, when we are not happy about what is going on in our lives and are experiencing depression, our conversations have the tendency to go negative. Have you ever had that family member, or love one who always has something negative to say no matter how what the circumstances are? It could be the birth of the baby, and they’re talking about how expensive it will be to add the child to the family insurance.
Negative conversation can actually be a sign of depression. When you are experiencing depression this is the time when you most need someone whom you can talk to that will support you. Life may be beating you down, so it is important to have someone available who cares to hear you out. But even those who are willing to hear you out, have their troubles as well. Try to evaluate, and as much as you can balance the tone of each conversation. Avoid being negative. It may be an opportunity in disguise to receive relief by uplifting someone else’s burden.
Know that Depression makes you more Sensitive
Maybe it’s been a while since you had lunch with friends. Maybe you were not invited to a family member’s or loved ones home during the holidays. When these types of circumstances occur, it is easy to start believing that, “no one wants to spend time with me.” You might ask, “ Will I ever have friends whom I can depend on?” Perhaps you even worry, “I must really be a nuisance to be around.”
Loneliness can often cause hypersensitivity and challenge us to believe that others don’t enjoy our company. So when we come around others who are willing to entertain our company, we may unconsciously give off a vibe that we don’t want to be bothered. We may refuse invitations, ignore our phones, or limit our interaction with others. We seek to protect ourselves from further pain because of obsessive thoughts that our friends and loved ones don’t really care. Knowing that you may be more sensitive to how others treat while you are feeling depressed may prevent you from misreading others intentions.
Depression Can Cause Us To Be Our Worst Critic
It is important to understand that during periods of depression, we can often be our worst critics. It’s good to try to remain present for each interaction. Try to avoid carrying the hurts from prior relationships into present situations. The next time you find yourself struggling to pick up the phone or accept the new invitation to be with family or friends, remember to check out of the past and position yourself for a new, brighter experience in the present. Be reminded of what is great about you. Write it down, and repeat it to yourself.
Forgive Your Way Out of Depression
There is an old saying that says, “forgive and let live.” That is easier said than done. Who wants to forgive when they are feeling depressed. It’s so much easier for us to think about who might need to be forgiving us, isn’t it. The truth is that when we become depressed, it is so easy to relive situations where we have been wronged. You may begin to remember how a sibling disrespected you in the past. You may think about how further along you might be in life if it weren’t for that inconsiderate loser you broke up with. But much too often we do not think of the liability that we choose to carry when we simply refuse to let go.
No One Can Run With Away With Your Feelings
Situations from the past will often cause us to seize up, build a wall, and then miss out on bigger and better situations. As quiet as it is kept, the true reality is, that no one can truly run away with your love, feelings, or well-being unless you choose to allow them to remain relevant. One way to diminish ones relevance is to forgive. When you decided to forgive, you free yourself from the negative thoughts that keep you captive and unable to move to new, fulfilling experiences.
Battling with depression is no easy situation. You have reasons to feel the way you do, and your feelings matter. Try some of these tips if you are receiving treatment for depression or if you have noticed that your mood has started to take a downward turn. These tips will be sure to support you with managing your relationships while feeling depression and directing you into a new and improved communication style.
Counseling For Depression
The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone! A good mental health therapist can help you learn implement all of these techniques. Better communication skills can help improve your relationships and help your depression lesson.
About the Author:
Choya Wise is the owner of a counseling practice in Huntsville, AL. Ironically his practice is named Aspire Counseling & Consulting. Choya specializes in the areas of couples counseling, depression treatment & anger management. Therefore, he is the perfect person to give advice on communicating and maintaining relationships through depression! Additionally, Choya provides clinical supervision to social workers in Alabama. If you have a quick question, feel free to e-mail him at Choya_w@yahoo.com. If you are looking for a therapist here in Mid Missouri to help you improve your communication, overcome depression or deal with extreme emotions in general please contact us at Aspire Counseling (the Missouri one) and we’re happy to talk about how one of our compassionate mental health therapists can help!