The way I handle bad days this year compared to last year is like night and day. I no longer keep it to myself as I know I have people I can talk to, who always makes me feel better. Furthermore, acknowledging how you are feeling instead of trying to bury the negativity deep down, makes it so much easier to feel better sooner.
Confiding in your friends
This may seem terrifying, but it will be the best thing you do. As obvious as your depression may seem, others might not realise it and explaining your situation will clear up so many questions they have. If your friends are real friends, they will not have a negative reaction. And if it feels awkward it first, give it time and talking about how you are feeling will feel as natural as discussing the weather. A problem halved is a problem shared. Additionally, as depression can cause you to cancel plans and even be hostile, letting your friends know might curb any fears they have that you hate them. And you never know, you might build up all this courage to confide in them for them to reply “Me too”.
This might seem obvious, but a Cognitive Behavioural Course I completed told me to complete one pleasurable activity a day. However, when I thought about it, I could not think of anything I ever did that I found enjoyable. That’s where friends come in! Spending time with my friends is guaranteed to make me smile; the more I see them, the happier I am. And if when you see your friends you don’t have fun, get yourself new friends that make you laugh. Personally, I didn’t realise the value of going out with friends until I had the best week ever on holiday with them – I completely forgot about all my problems for a whole week which seems unbelievable.
Real friends don’t make you feel like you owe them
It is important to note that your friends should not expect anything in return for supporting you – of course, they will expect the same support back – but they should not make you feel indebted to them. A real friend will not help you out for personal gain and to make you feel like you “owe” them for anything. However, this sadly is the case with a lot of people. I have friends that would change plans, meet me somewhere out-of-the-way and even offer to drive me places, and they do this out of the kindness of their heart. But some people will ask you “How are you?” and expect to become a saint – this is solely due to people being different and do not let it annoy you. Neither should your “friends” use your illness against you or criticise you for it; if anyone says your illness has made their life harder then they’re extremely insensitive, selfish and you should let go of them.
Telling your friends if you are feeling down
Any strong friendship will include cheering each other up! Obviously, it is a lot harder to be honest when you don’t have a clear-cut reason for your sudden low mood but that shouldn’t make it any different. Just like you would reassure your friend how amazing she is if she broke up with her boyfriend, you should reassure your friend that they are loved, cared for and important if they are feeling worthless. My friends remind me of how far I’ve came and how I’ve fought these feeling before when I can’t think logically. My wonderful friend brought me ice cream and gifts after I was hospitalised and the fact that she even thought to do that instantly boosted my mood. Don’t feel guilty if you talk to your friend about your depression a lot because a friendship should be reciprocal; whilst I talk about my mental health, my friends confide in me about the vast variety of stresses in their lives.
Friends can help you through stressful situations
Since my friends know what situations will make me anxious, they reassure me before and during flights, exams and train journeys, etc. Knowing you have someone to turn to in a panic is so comforting and for me, it was one of the reasons I have faced up to so many challenges. You may be embarrassed to admit your fears but it is so worth it! My friend convinced me to go on holiday and she promised she would keep me calm – and she did! I couldn’t have gotten over my fear of flying without her and it’s reinforced to me that I can do anything – even if I need someone to be there with me.
To conclude, having a strong support network has been invaluable for me. Whether my friends have helped me to conquer a fear, cheer up or even have a laugh for an hour, they have all made an immense difference to my life. I would like to thank them for being part of my journey – from those who get the train with me to those who understand when I cancel plans. Life is much better when you’re laughing and I could never laugh so hard without my friends. They lift me out of low moods and distract me when I’m panicky; this is why you should confide in your friends as their support will be of great benefit.