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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression

15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression

Sixteen million Americans are diagnosed with depression. Around the world, this condition affects around 350 million people. However, there are still so many negative stigmas and false knowledge about depression prevailing in the modern society.

The first most important thing to remember is that nobody “wallows” in depression as if it’s a cozy hot bath tub. Depression is not a choice. It’s a severe physical condition that needs special treatment and attention. When you deal with someone having depression (a loved one or just a casual acquaintance), please do not forget about the following things:

1. They experience much more than sadness

Depression does not equal to sadness. In fact, it’s a complicated mix of of feelings and physical changes in the body. Apart from overwhelming sadness, it rolls in with a huge bundle of other emotions like anxiety, disturbance, apathy, tension and more. Don’t ask them about where their anxiety came from, instead, offer them to help dealing with it.

2. They are not weak

Some of the most influential and talented people in the world suffered from depression. These people include J.K. Rowling, Robin Williams, and more. And that’s absolutely fine. In fact, as Dr.Neel Burton puts it in his TED talk it is our modern society that created a negative stigma around depression.

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The book author Eric G. Wilson develops this thought even further and writes: “I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations“.

Being sad, overwhelmed and depressed is absolutely fine. It doesn’t mean people with depression are just weak. It means they just need to address some important life problems and learn to deal with them.

3. They won’t become happy if they just start acting like one

Sadly, they can’t just snap of being depressed. They cannot do the “happy things” and become happier.  Depression severely affects brain chemistry. It’s a condition that you can’t get rid of by simply switching your mood. Don’t push them into doing things that might make them delight or force them to have fun. As Sabrina Benaim puts it in her video: “It’s just not so that much fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun”.

4. They often have insomnia they can’t beat

Counting sheep won’t do the trick here. Their mind rings with thousand questions and thoughts keeping them awake at night. If you find them sitting in the kitchen in 3 am, don’t force them back to bed. Offer your company (even silent), a glass of something warm and a soothing talk or book, or anything else that might help them get rid of those pesky thoughts.

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5. They don’t make something out of nothing

Depression is a serious, biological illness that leaked into their existence. And they definitely did not choose to be depressed. Why would anyone choose to have Lyme disease or polio? It’s beyond your control and being depressed is not a choice. Sure, there are ways to practice mental health, but no one can be 100% sure that depression will never happen to them. They did not choose to feel this way. Don’t forget that!

6. They may push you away

Among other complicated feelings, people with depression often feel guilty for being a burden to their close ones.  They prefer to appear “busy” while secretly craving for a company. They often isolate themselves simply because they worry to much about burdening the close ones with their illness. Don’t force them to hang out together, but gently remind you are always here for them and will not stop loving them.

7. They can listen to your problems too

Dealing with their own problems, absolutely doesn’t mean they don’t want to (or can’t handle) listening to your problems and feelings. In fact, it helps them focus on something else than their own troubles, plus feel better for being a good friend/partner.

8. They can’t handle “tough-love” approach

If you think that you can “fix” them by making demands, creating ultimatums e.g. “I’ll break up with you if you don’t get better now!”, you are one step away from traumatising them even more!  Depression isn’t something you can cure with threats and “tough love” approach. It’s unrealistic and manipulative of you.

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9. They become easily overwhelmed

Don’t be mad when they suddenly cancel plans or choose to leave home early. It’s not about what you did or said. It’s just one of the side effects of having this condition. At one moment you feel great and full of enthusiasm, but just a few moments later overwhelming tiredness rolls in and all the energy is gone. You see, people with depression need more effort to get through their day. Small things can seem exhausting to them. Some days they have more energy left to do some good stuff, some days they finish up empty.

10.  They have “good days”, but it doesn’t mean it’s all gone

People with depression can have “good days” when they are completely happy just as anyone else around. However, don’t swiftly assume they are no longer sick and would be cured forever. Depression isn’t as simple as that. Have fun with them today and help them get through tomorrow even if their condition returns in its worse.

11. They never mean to hurt you

Watching how your close one’s suffering from depression can be a painful experience. It’s hard to understand and accept their self-harm attempts, daily struggles and frequent crying.

Sadly, depression is a selfish disease. We can say harsh things, be mean, push you away, and do other unpleasant things we actually don’t mean to. It’s all out of tremendous hurt we are trying to deal with.  And we often prefer to hurt ourselves instead, just not to hurt you (which is rather obscure as you suffer as well eventually). It’s challenging to love someone with depression, so we are very, very grateful you are here with us.

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12. They understand when you get frustrated

People with depression perfectly understand how difficult it is for you to cope with their state. There’s no need to walk on eggshells when you’re around them.  Yes, they need your love and support, but they also don’t expect complete self-sacrifice from you. Once your feeling boil up, don’t be afraid to talk with them about it and work a better strategy together! Set up appropriate boundaries and you’ll be good.

13. They are proud of small achievements

Things that may sound insignificant to you can mean the whole world to them. Getting out of bed today is an achievement, and so does going out or falling asleep easily for 3 days straight. Be proud of those small progresses even if they may seem minuscule to you. Remember, they will aim for bigger things once they get healthy. But for now, it’s the small things they should learn to accomplish daily.

14. They are loyal friends and partners

Yes, it’s challenging to be close with a depressed person. A lot of friends will leave them during their illness, however if you stick with them, you’ll have the most loyal friend you can ever imagine. The support and efforts you’ve made for them would be never forgotten.  If you make it till the end together, you’ll share the bond very few people can boast of. They will always be there for you and you will never fight anything alone.

15. They will get better one day

As any physical illness, depression can be treated. One day, the storm will pass and you’ll find yourself next to an amazing person and grateful loyal friend for a lifetime!

Featured photo credit: gagilas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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