How To Tell Your Friends You’re Depressed
Having depression can be a hard pill to swallow and thinking about how to tell your friends can be even harder. To take the pressure off, we’ve put together several ways that you can tell your friends that you’re depressed. But even if you get your words mixed up, let out a few tears, or completely forget what you learned here today during the conversation, we’re proud of you. Speaking about it to others is one of the healthiest things that you can do as you get one step closer to healing with the help of others. A problem shared is a problem halved!
Think About Which Friends To Tell
It’s important to consider which friends you’d like to tell, as many of us have friends that we don’t see as equals. As adults, we tend to have different go-to friends. Some of our friends make the best traveling companions or plus ones to a party where you don’t know anyone except for the person that invited you, whereas some of our friends are the ones that we go to for a pick-me-up and encouragement – these are the friends you want to lean on. If you tell the wrong type of friends that you’re depressed, it could leave you feeling worse.
However, you should remember that a friend unable to help you with your depression in the way that you need isn’t always through the fault of their own. There will be friends out there who can effortlessly meet your needs, but there are also some people who are emotionally unavailable and will struggle to help you to deal with depression. Try not to push them away just because you can’t openly talk about it with them. If these types of friends can still put a smile on your face without knowing about your depression, keeping them around can be a good thing to take your mind off it, as you probably don’t always want to be in your feels and talking about your depression 24/7.
Think About How Much You’re Going To Share With Your Friends
So, you’ve chosen which friends you’re going to talk to about your depression. Next, you’ll want to think about how much information you’re going to give them. Are you going to take them back to when you first saw the signs of depression? Are you going to start from when you officially got the diagnosis? Have a clear starting point in mind so you only share what you’re comfortable with. Maybe you had a really awful first week when you learned you could have depression and you aren’t ready to open up about it yet. Knowing how much you’d like to share before the conversation starts will prevent you from going off-topic and accidentally saying something you’d like to keep to yourself for a little longer.
What’s Your End Goal of the Conversation?
What is it that you need from your friends after the conversation ends? Are you looking for advice as you figure things out? Are you looking for great listeners or are you just wanting them to understand why you’ve been acting out of character and that it’s not personal? Going into the conversation about depression knowing what your end goal is will help you to communicate it clearly and give you a better chance of walking away with an outcome you’re happy with.
How Much Do Your Friends Know About Depression?
Some of your friends may be familiar with depression having gone through it themselves or have a close family member who has been diagnosed with depression, while others may know very little on the subject. Friends that you wish to tell who aren’t strangers to depression won’t need so much of an explanation on what it is, how to help you, and how it affects you and your everyday life. But those who have never come across depression before may need more information and even have questions of their own. Before telling these friends, it’s a good idea to do some research so you’re able to give them everything they need to understand it more, and therefore, be able to offer more support to you.
Pick a Location You Feel Comfortable With
Where would you feel most comfortable telling your friends about your depression? A bottomless brunch is a recipe for disaster. For one, you’re hyped up on booze. And secondly, you probably don’t want to have to shout to be heard in a loud restaurant. *Cue silence at the worst possible time*
Perhaps you want to try a quiet coffee shop instead. One you regularly visit that feels like home, this way you can feel comfortable and still have a quick exit if you’d like to leave the conversation for whatever reason. But if anything public scares you, maybe a friend’s house, so you still have the option to leave if it gets overwhelming. Not everyone understands social cues, so you might have trouble getting them to leave your own home.
Imagine Your Friends Reactions
While it’s impossible to predict their exact reactions, imagining how they might possibly react will help you to feel more prepared going into the conversation. One friend might feel hurt that you didn’t feel like you could tell them until now, while another might be so worried about you that they smother you and hardly give you room to breathe. Or maybe they’ll turn the conversation around to talk about their experience with depression. All these reactions are valid, and the conversation will go a lot smoother if you remember that your friends have your best interests at heart.
You may feel like it’s unjustified or selfish for them to feel upset that you didn’t have the conversation with them earlier, as the point of you telling them about your depression is because you’re the one hurting. However, this isn’t the self-centered reaction it may come across as. What they really mean is that it’s caused them pain to know you’ve been suffering alone and that they wished they could have been there for you earlier. So, be prepared to explain why you’ve waited until now so they can better understand your point of view.
If they react by smothering you, know that this comes from a good place. When your friend’s hurting all you want to do is make them feel better and fast. So many people respond to a friend in pain by doing too much and all at once, which can feel overwhelming. If you’ve delayed telling them about your depression for a long time, they may feel the need to make up for not being able to be there for you from the very beginning. Let them know that you’re very much aware that if they could’ve been there, they would’ve been. And that you want to take things day by day and focus on building a happier future, instead of the past.
Turning the conversation around to talk about a similar situation they went through is letting you know that you aren’t alone. They’re not trying to steal your spotlight. They want to communicate to you that they understand what you’re going through, and what better way to do this than to explain what happened to them? Anyone can say “I understand,” but not many friends can say “I know exactly what you’re going through.” They’re the most helpful friends you’ll want to keep by your side during your darker days, so don’t give them a hard time.
How Many Friends Will You Tell at Once?
There are three approaches you could take to telling your friends about your depression. You could have the conversation 1-on-1 with each friend, talk to all of them at once, or break it down into smaller groups.
Having the talk with your friends individually allows you to have a more in-depth, intimate conversation as you only have to engage with one person. It gives you the chance to process and respond appropriately to any questions or concerns they may have that you wouldn’t have the chance to do if they’re all firing away at you at once. You’re also more likely to receive their real reaction rather than a collective group response that’s been influenced by everyone involved as they bounce off each other. By understanding how they truly feel, you’ll be able to help them, help you.
However, you might prefer just to rip the band-aid off to get it over and done with or gather your friends in smaller numbers to make it easier for you. It all comes down to personal preference and what would make you feel more at ease.
Although, if you choose to talk to two or more friends at once, make sure this isn’t the first time they’re meeting. To be meeting a new friend and hear life-changing information at the same time may be more than they can handle. It could also bring a sense of awkwardness as they just met, or worse, they don’t get on, which will create negative vibes and make it harder for you to express yourself.
Understand Your Own Feelings About Your Diagnosis
When you first saw signs of depression in yourself, how did you feel? Does depression match the expectations that you had before your diagnosis? Do you fully accept that you have depression or are you at war with yourself? Having an understanding of how you feel about your depression before the conversation will help you to share your feelings with others. You don’t want to discover and have to process new feelings that you weren’t aware of halfway through the conversation and in front of others.
Choose a Day When You’re Feeling Good and Up for Talking
You don’t need to commit to a certain day if you’re not feeling up for having the conversation. Maybe you arranged it last week when you were feeling good, but now in the lead-up to the day, you’re going through a rough patch and couldn’t think of anything worse than telling your friends you have depression. Go easy on yourself. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, you’re allowed to cancel. You don’t have to go through with it if you don’t want to. Having the conversation will make you more vulnerable as you begin to open up about how you feel, so it’s vital you pick a day where you’re feeling good just in case it doesn’t go to plan.
Remember Their Reaction Is a Reflection of Their Own Character, Not Yours
Speaking of not going to plan, you may find that not all your friends react in the way you had hoped, but don’t let this set you back. Just because one friend didn’t respond the way you wanted them to when you told them you have depression, doesn’t mean that none of them will.
If you’re met with a negative reaction, remember that it says more about their character than it does about you. If they don’t believe that you have depression because you always seem so upbeat and happy, it’s down to the information they’ve been exposed to and it’s not your job to try and change their mind. If they tell you “to stop feeling sorry for yourself,” remind yourself that you’re entitled to feel the way you do. If you’re met with anything but love when you tell your friends you have depression, it doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of love. It means they’re not worthy of being your friend.
Start with the friends who are more likely to give you the support you need to give you a confidence boost when going to tell the others. If you start with the friend that’s least likely to be able to understand you, you could convince yourself it’s a bad idea to tell anyone else and talk yourself out of it.