Opening up to others about topics such as depression can be a daunting task. Even the thought may be enough to induce a cold sweat. This can be particularly true when opening up to friends or family. Sometimes, it can be the most difficult to share sensitive information with those you’re closest to. However, doing so can be critical to your mental health.
Having tough conversations with those closest to you can bridge a significant gap in relationships you might not have even known existed. It can create a more robust support system. As much as family or friends have helped you before, they can help even more when they know about your condition.
Sharing this information can also give you some of the power back that your mental health condition might’ve taken from you. Hiding a mental health condition can cause a great deal of unwarranted stress. Getting secrets out in the open can free you from the shame and isolation they can cause.
Setting the Scene
When picking up a new book, the action or dialogue catches your attention and hooks you. You couldn’t imagine where the story was taking place if the author didn’t take the time to give you the setting. The setting isn’t just a passive bystander. The time, date, and location of what happens can affect the outcome.
When planning a difficult conversation with friends or family, where and when you say something can be just as important as what you say. You want to pick a location with an atmosphere that reflects your hopes for the conversation. Busy, loud, and stressful environments will make for discussions with the same tone. Calm, quiet, and relaxed atmospheres are more conducive to a positive experience.
In the same way as approaching a timid animal, your approach to a situation can mean everything. The mind state and body language you adopt can either set you up for success or failure. If you approach the conversation in a negative mind state, you limit the conversation to a negative outcome. Conversely, if you approach a conversation with a positive and open mind, you create opportunities for positive outcomes.
Your attitude may not be directly visible, but it’s often reflected in the intonation of your voice and body language. Physical presence during an interaction can play a critical role in how an exchange plays out. People continuously interpret the body language of those they speak to, consciously or subconsciously.
What to Say
Once you’ve picked the right setting and approach, the next step is knowing what you’ll say. The most important thing to remember is that honesty is vital.
Without honesty, there’s no trust. Even if the other person doesn’t know you’re being dishonest, you will know. If you can’t trust yourself to be honest, how can you trust anyone else to be honest? Think about what you want to say ahead of time and practice it.
Visualize the conversation going as you want it to, as an athlete might visualize hitting a home run or scoring a goal.
Know what you’re talking about when it comes to your condition. No one expects you to be an expert on your mental health condition, but they might expect you to know enough to explain it.
Look online for information about depression to help you to explain it to others. Ideally, you’ll have researched enough to be able to teach them the things you want them to understand about your condition. It doesn’t hurt to have a few examples to help explain what you might be experiencing in a way that is relatable to them.
Personal expectations are a complicated topic in itself. Having expectations of yourself can help with setting goals. Expectations of others can attempt to give some sense of predictability to how they might behave or interact with you. However, there are two sides to every coin.
Failing to meet your expectations can lead to self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of failure. When others fail to meet your expectations, it can birth resentment toward them.
The same is true regarding expectations about having a discussion with friends and family about your mental health condition. Expect questions and be prepared for them.
Don’t be disappointed if they don’t ask questions. Expect them to have some reaction, but don’t expect them to react exactly how you want them to. No matter how they react, don’t allow it to take away from how you feel about yourself or the positive work you have done.
Putting yourself out there to discuss your depression is a big step that you should be proud of. Even if it doesn’t go exactly the way you hope, it opens the floor for continued dialogue as soon as your loved ones are ready.
Talking to friends and family about your depression can feel like an impossible task. Knowing how to approach the conversation can significantly impact its outcome. At Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center, we provide a safe, relaxing environment to discuss with those closest to you.
We aim to help you understand your depression so that you’re better able to help your loved ones understand the role it plays in your life. If you are considering having a serious conversation with your friends or family about your depression, we would love to be involved and offer our expertise.
Call us at (888) 627-6225 to learn more about approaching complex topics with loved ones.